Category : Press Release
Date : November 28, 2018
Agency : Investor Relations Office
Title : Government Caps Sulong Pilipinas 2018 - Private-sector recommendations for governance gathered
Article : DAVAO CITY, NOVEMBER 28 — Philippine economic and infrastructure officials, led by Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, capped off the month with the successful conduct of Sulong Pilipinas 2018. Earlier this month, the program was also held in Cebu (Nov. 9); San Fernando, La Union (Nov. 14), and Clark, Pampanga (Nov. 26).

Sulong Pilipinas is a modern town hall consultative activity where private sector participants give policy recommendations and feedback on various areas of governance, such as economic development, infrastructure, local governance, peace and order, agriculture, social services, and micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) development.

The first Sulong Pilipinas for representatives of the business community was held in May 2016 by then incoming Cabinet members of President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Since then, annual Sulong Pilipinas events have been spearheaded by the DOF, co-organized by other government agencies.

Hailing the importance of the consultative forum, DOF Assistant Secretary (ASec) Tony Lambino, said that “In only two years of the Duterte administration, top recommendations from the first Sulong event have already been legislated on or operationalized. These include the National ID System (signed into law in August), comprehensive tax reform (first package of which took effect in January this year), the Ease of Doing Business law (signed in May), and the launch of a more aggressive infrastructure development agenda through the “Build, Build, Build program.”

Consistent with the principles of inclusive policy-making, majority of the participants of Sulong Pilipinas 2018 were representatives of MSMEs.

Top recommendations during Sulong Pilipinas 2018 were to: (1) prioritize farming education and use new agricultural technology to improve agricultural output and farmers’ income; (2) build more infrastructure projects (seaports, airports, and mass-based transport systems) to improve access/mobility across regions and minimize congestion; (3) simplify loan requirements and offer low/reasonable interest rates for MSMEs and farmers; (4) improve access to education, particularly for the poor; (5) for the DSWD to conduct stricter profiling of 4P recipients and consider monitoring their expenses. Livelihood trainings should also be provided to recipients; (6) enable speedy processing and issuance of license to operate (LTO) and certificate of product registration (CPR) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); (7) ensure proper planning in implementation of infrastructure projects to lessen disruptions to business operations; (8) simplify BIR processes; (9) enhance peace and order through : a) greater police and military visibility in rural areas; b) intensive monitoring of illegal business in coastal areas; and c) continuing martial law in Mindanao; (10) provide health services in every part of the country, with more funding for the Department of Health to build more health centers and hospitals to decongest district hospitals; (11) provide tax incentives for MSME development; and (12) streamline government processes.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III pointed out that, "Sulong Pilipinas embodies the continuing effort of the Duterte administration to make our economic development story holistic and inclusive. The previous years’ conferences have enabled the government to champion programs that will truly benefit the business sector. All comments and recommendations made in the previous forums were taken into consideration and were integrated in President Duterte’s development agenda."

"This year we have stepped up our efforts to connect with the private sector," said Dominguez during the Sulong news briefing. "To improve representation of all parts of the country and increase access for stakeholders, we decided to hold regional forums, with the purpose of primarily gathering the inputs and recommendations of representatives from our small and medium enterprises or SMEs. This sector is a crucial component of our economy, representing 99 percent of business entities and employing the bulk of our workers."

All four legs of Sulong Pilipinas 2018 opened with the conduct of the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB). The PEB is a flagship activity of the Investor Relations Office (IRO) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). During the PEB, top economic and infrastructure officials presented updates on the economic performance, outlook, and policies, as well as the government’s massive and much needed infrastructure thrust.

Atty. Evie Medina-Navarro, IRO Director, said, “We are happy to serve as the central office to bridge our stakeholders (local and international investors, and members of the media) with various government economic and infrastructure agencies to tell the dynamic and compelling story of continued growth and inclusive development. Information campaigns such as these promote understanding and appreciation of policies that will benefit and impact all Filipinos. They serve as beginning platforms for greater cooperation and coordination among agencies of government and the public.”

During the PEB, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo delivered the message that, “The Philippines has been an outperformer in recent years. It is one of the fastest growing and most resilient economies in the region and the world. This trend is expected to continue on the back of strong macroeconomic fundamentals.” He assured that, “The BSP will continue to complement government efforts toward sustainable, robust, and more inclusive economic growth by staying committed to our price and financial stability mandates.” On inflation, the Deputy Governor said that following a slew of policy initiatives, including monetary policy actions by the BSP, “inflation is expected to revert to within-target range next year.”

Government economic officials who participated in at least one leg of Sulong Pilipinas 2018 and PEBs included DOF Secretary Dominguez, Secretary Benjamin Diokno, ASec Rolando Toledo, and Assistant Director Yolanda Reyes of the Department of Budget and Management, Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation, ASec Carlos Abad-Santos of the National Economic and Development Authority, and Undersecretaries (USec) Emil Sadain and Dimas Soguilon of the Department of Public Works and Highways. DOF USec Karl Chua and Director Juvy Danofrata also explained the tax reform program of government and the Trabaho Bill.

Joining them in various legs were BSP officials — Deputy Governor Guinigundo, and Assistant Governors Wilhelmina Manalac, and Francisco Dakila Jr.

Kenneth Reyes-Lao, owner of Cacao Culture Farms based Davao City, said, “I find [Sulong Pilipinas and Philippine Economic Briefing] very useful because we are given updates on latest government programs, new laws, infrastructure projects for implementation, and other information. We are also given assurance that the government is doing something to improve business environment.”

Art Milan, president of Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, described Sulong Pilipinas and the PEB as “a very useful exercise to maintain communication and engagement between the government and the private sector.” He added that, “Compared to previous administrations, the current administration is doing much better in terms of pursuing infrastructure development for Mindanao. But Mindanao lags far behind compared with other areas of the country in terms of competitiveness, and so my recommendation for the government is to hasten the speed of implementation of infrastructure projects in Mindanao. We need to uplift the economic situation in Mindanao so it can help boost growth of the national economy.”

Given the warm reception of stakeholders to the concluded Sulong Pilipinas and PEBs, organizers are considering holding these in more locations across the country next year.

DOF ASec Tony Lambino said: “We are pleased to witness our stakeholders actively participate in Sulong Pilipinas. Our policymakers find this event an effective platform to generate valuable feedback from the people. As such, we hope to continue to conduct Sulong Pilipinas, and will aim for an even wider reach moving forward.”