Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III extended his thanks and appreciation to this year’s participants of the second Sulong Pilipinas consultative workshop for their valuable inputs that support the Duterte administration’s economic breakout strategy anchored on high and inclusive growth.
The inputs focused on programs to accelerate growth in the countryside, improve the ease of doing business, speed up infrastructure development and strengthen the country’s regional competitiveness.
Dominguez assured the various stakeholders who took part in the day-long forum that the government will accelerate the implementation of their top 10 recommended action programs, which were presented to President Duterte at the Sulong’s closing session on Wednesday night.
“We truly appreciate the keen interest and zeal of the various stakeholders in putting forth their valuable recommendations during the second Sulong workshop. These recommendations, which support the Duterte administration’s economic breakout strategy of sustaining high growth while making its benefits felt by all Filipinos, will be thoroughly studied and swiftly implemented,” Dominguez said.
Over 500 participants from the executive and legislative branches of government, representatives of multilateral institutions, leaders of the business community and civil society groups attended the whole-day second Sulong workshop, which was capped by the keynote speech of President Duterte in the evening.
As in the first Sulong national workshop held in Davao City before President Duterte formally assumed office last year, Dominguez said the second forum turned out to be yet another “productive dialogue” between the government and the private sector.
“This is how public-private partnership works. The government side delivers the medium. The private sector delivers the content. It is a productive symbiosis,” Dominguez said at the press briefing held on the sidelines of Sulong Pilipinas2017 at the EDSA Shangrila Hotel in Mandaluyong City.
Dominguez said 10 new action programs emerged from the daylong discussions in the second Sulong. These are:
1. Identifying Best Competitive Advantages versus other countries in ASEAN and rallying both government and private sector to drive growth and competitiveness;
2. Improving ease of doing business through the convergence of different agencies, including the local government units;
3. Completing C-6 (from Skyway/FTI in Taguig to Batasan Complex in Quezon City) to ease Metro Manila congestion;
4. Allowing new players in the telecommunications industry;
5. Improving agricultural support infrastructure and services such as farm-to-market roads, cold storage, and irrigation to facilitate the distribution of agricultural products and increased farmer incomes;
6. Addressing the job-skills mismatch through the joint identification of job profiles needed per industry by the government, industry and the academe;
7. Improving health services by expanding public access to healthcare, which would entail expanding Philhealth coverage, providing more free medicines, and strengthening rural health units and hospitals;
8. Improving land tenure security in all areas;
9. Intensifying and speeding up resolution of the conflict in Marawi; and
10. Providing entrepreneurial education for farmers, fisherfolk and other agricultural workers.
“On our part, we will study closely the suggestions and see what specific policy actions might be taken,” Dominguez said.
The same set of new action programs were reported by George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), to the President at the closing session of the forum.
Dominguez recalled that in the first Sulong forum held on June 20-21 last year, the business sector, along with civil society groups and other stakeholders, arrived at 10 actionable recommendations, which as of today, “have been substantially complied with by the Duterte administration.”
Barcelon said the government has been “religiously following” the 10 actionable recommendations in the first Sulong, which was later adopted as the 0-10 socioeconomic reform agenda of the Duterte administration.
He also thanked Dominguez, who spearheaded the first Sulong last year and is now hosting it as finance chief, for “his support and confidence in the private business sectors as partners in charting the road map to a nationwide development for prosperity.”
Melanie Ng, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, cited the “closer coordination” among the Cabinet secretaries in this year’s Sulongthat has made the concerns of the private sector “easily addressed.”
Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea were among the top government officials at the forum.
Besides Dominguez, the other public officials who took part in the forum were Secretaries Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Rodolfo Salalima of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and Paulynn Ubial of the Department of Health (DOH) and Vivencio Dizon, president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Among the representatives from multilateral institutions and the private sector who attended at the second Sulong workshop were Barcelon; Sergio Ortiz Luis, president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation; Calixto Chikiamco, president of the Foundation for Economic Freedom; Lal Chatlani, vice president for internal affairs of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce; Elaine Chong, vice chairperson of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc.; Aekapol Chongvilaivan, country economist of the Asian Development Bank; and Sam Chittick, country representative of the Asia Foundation.
Dennis Uy, president and CEO of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc., Capt. Ronaldo Go, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.; Dr. Bodo Goerlich, vice president of the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Jose Luis Gomez, president and CEO of RCBC Capital; Joaquin Lagonera, president of Sagittarius Mines Inc.; Vicente Lao, chairman of the Mindanao Business Council; and Arthur Lopez, president of the Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc. were also present at the event.