Business groups assured: Priority bills to pass

THE leadership of the House of Representatives on Thursday assured the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) of the passage, before yearend, of priority bills that business groups have been pushing to boost the economy and hasten recovery from the pandemic.

In a statement following his speech at PCCI’s general membership meeting in Makati City, Speaker Martin G. Romualdez said majority of the priority measures spelled out by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his recent State of the Nation Address are principally authored by him, “so I expect my fellow legislators to act on these bills with dispatch.”

Romualdez was referring to these priority measures: (1) The Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act; (2) Valuation Reform Bill; (3) Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act or PIFITA; (4) E-Government Act; (5) Internet  Transaction Act or E-Commerce Law; (6) National Land Use Act; (7) Enactment of an Enabling Law for the Natural Gas Industry; (8) Amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act; and (9) Amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.

“In fact, I am hopeful that we can approve most of these measures before the year ends,” Romualdez said.

“One thing I assure you, though. As stakeholders, you will be consulted in every measure that we tackle, especially those involving commerce and industry. Please make your positions very clear on the issues I mentioned earlier as I want all stakeholders to be heard before we pass these measures,” he added.

Fiscal framework adopted

The Lakas-CMD President said PCCI’s invitation also came at an opportune time as the House adopted last Monday Concurrent Resolution No. 2, which expresses the chamber’s full support to the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) crafted by the administration of President Marcos.

“I dare say that the adoption by Congress of the MTFF Concurrent Resolution is a historic one,” Romualdez said. “To my knowledge, this is the first time that our legislators fully committed themselves to a medium-term fiscal plan that will serve as anchor for the annual spending and financing plan of the national government. This— the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework—will serve as our guide in preparing the annual budget for the next six years,” he said.

The Marcos administration designed the 2022-2028 Medium-Term Fiscal Framework to attain short-term macro-fiscal stability while remaining supportive of the economic recovery and promoting medium-term fiscal sustainability.

It aims to reinvigorate job creation and poverty reduction by steering the economy back to its high-growth path in the near term and sustain the high—but inclusive and resilient—growth all through 2028.

“The philosophy is simple: efficient collection of taxes especially under a strong economy ensures adequate funding for government programs. In simple terms, the MTFF is a fiscal consolidation and resource mobilization plan. The objective: in the short run, keep the macroeconomy stable and provide adequate social services; in the medium term, generate more jobs, quality jobs, green jobs,” Romualdez explained.

“We, in the House of Representatives, not only support the MTFF. We are also aligning Congressional initiatives with the economic recovery programs of the National Government,” he added.

The framework contains an eight-point Socioeconomic Agenda aimed towards immediate job creation and poverty reduction. These include attaining food security; reduction of transport and logistic costs; reduction of energy cost to families; addressing public health concerns; strengthening of social protection programs; return to face-to-face classes; enhanced bureaucratic efficiency; and sound fiscal management.

The MTFF also sets macroeconomic targets for the next six years, as follows: (1) 6.5- to 7.5-percent GDP growth in 2022 and 6.5- to 8-percent annual GDP growth from 2023 to 2028; (2) 9-percent poverty rate by 2028; (3) 3-percent national government deficit by 2028; (4) Less than 60-percent debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025; and (5) Upper middle-income country status for the Philippines, with each Filipino earning at least 4,046 US dollars per year.

Romualdez also said he will engage PCCI in serious discussions on how the government and private sector can work together to give flesh to the administration’s economic agenda.

Image credits: Robinson Ninal Jr./Malacañang Presidential Photographers Division via AP