Ahead of the midterm State of the Nation Address, over thirteen of the Philippines’ most prominent business groups and joint foreign chambers expressed strong support for key measures in the Duterte administration’s legislative agenda for the 18th Congress.
These include the passage of the remaining packages of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), which focus on reforms in the corporate income tax (CIT) and fiscal incentive system, in property valuation and assessment, and in capital income and financial taxation; plus new excise taxes on alcohol, e-cigarettes and vapor (vaping) products.
Other priority measures identified by the groups are the amendments to the Public Service Act, Foreign Investment Act, and Retail Trade Act—all of which are meant to open the domestic economy to more foreign direct investments (FDIs).
The Department of Finance (DOF) and the rest of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) had previously identified these bills as among their priorities during their Pre-State of the Nation (Pre-SONA) Forum held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City last July 1.
In their July 8 letter addressed to President Duterte, the private sector groups singled out these reforms, among others, as crucial “to improve the Philippine economy and our international competitiveness.”
They added that they believe in the positive impact these reforms will have in “achieving our shared vision of inclusive growth through job generation, poverty reduction, and global competitiveness.”
The groups also congratulated the administration for its “highly productive partnership with the 17th Congress,” which led to multiple improvements in the country’s business environment.
The measures written by the 17th Congress include the Ease of Doing Business Act, the Institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the National ID System, Universal Health Care (UHC), and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) or Package 1 of the CTRP.
Together with the efficient implementation of these existing reforms, the full passage of the CTRP, efficient implementation of existing reforms, the improvement of agricultural productivity, and the acceleration of infrastructure development via the “Build, Build, Build” program make up the five main priorities of the economic team for the remaining three years of the Duterte administration.
Signatories to the letter included the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham), Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ANZCham), Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CanCham), the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IT-BPAP), Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines (JCCI), Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (KCCP), Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters (Pamuri), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), and the Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI).