Increasing financial assistance to farmers, strengthening education’s focus on science and technology (S&T) and integrating government portals and services to make transactions easier amid the COVID-19 pandemic were among the Top 10 actionable recommendations submitted by the private sector at this year’s first virtual Sulong Pilipinas forum.
The recommendations covered the areas of health, transportation, infrastructure, social protection, human capital development, agriculture, digitalization, and communications.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who received the Top 10 recommendations, said at the end of the event that the national government (NG) will consider these “and do our best to achieve most of them within the remaining period of President Duterte’s term.”
Around 670 representatives from the private sector took part in the “Sulong Pilipinas 2021: Partners for Progress Forum held on April 26 via Zoom, while more than 44,000 people watched the livestream of the event on the Facebook pages of Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) and the government agencies of the Economic Development (EDC) and Infrastructure (IC) Cabinet Clusters.
The online conference also served as a venue for the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) reports of the EDC chaired by Dominguez and the IC Cabinet Clusters led by Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.
Presented by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico, the Top 10 actionable recommendation, in no particular order, are the following:
1. To further assist and sustain farmers and organizations recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and local government units (LGUs) should provide farmers with financial aid, farming implements, and consistently market local produce by the end of 2021;
2. To improve learning outcomes and encourage innovation, the Departments of Education (DepEd), of Budget and Management (DBM), and of Science and Technology (DOST) must work together to identify how to strengthen the curriculum’s focus on S&T science as well as pinpoint opportunities for investments in self-sufficient research facilities by 2022;
3. To make transactions easier amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the government should provide a one-stop-shop of all government services and portals and integrate various government services within the year;
4. To improve health and emergency response, the government, through the Department of Health (DOH), should provide more strategic investments, increased support for human resource, upgraded facilities and up-to-date technology that will create long-term impact post-pandemic by 2022;
5. To have a transportation system that efficiently moves people, goods, and promote interconnectivity, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) should come up with an integrated transportation and logistics roadmap that focuses more resources on mass transit and rail systems within 5 to 8 years;
6. To better address the adequate supply of quality construction materials in line with the ‘Build Build Build’ program, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) must work together with manufacturers and importers of construction materials and craft a long-term plan to balance trade to achieve cost-effective targets by August 2021;
7. To ensure effective policy enforcement, government agencies and the military should have faster coordination and a strategic communications strategy reaching the grassroots and community levels;
8. To attract regional investments, the LGUs, DepEd, and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) should establish programs to enhance skills and talents to support sectors and industries as part of the economic recovery program starting 2021;
9. To enable women with young children to work and provide access to jobs, the DTI, Departments of Finance (DOF) and of Labor and Employment (DOLE), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should increase investments for universal social protection by 2022; and
10. To improve urban mobility, the DOTr, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) should increase investments in urban mobility infrastructure (i.e, bike lanes) and public transport reform by 2022.
The Sulong forum was staged in coordination with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS).
The Cabinet officials from the EDC and IC clusters provided updates on the country’s economic development, infrastructure development, and COVID-19 response. After which, a Sulong Pilipinas workshop was conducted to gather the actionable recommendations from the private sector.