Advocacy and Concerns | Philstar.com
On September 30, leaders of the Federation of Philippine-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCII) had a very productive meeting with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Our discussion focused on initiatives to accelerate the Philippines’ economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome and support the President’s call for a “pan-national approach” to accelerate our country’s economic recovery.
Indeed, the government cannot do it alone. All of us – the corporate sector, NGOs, the media, every Filipino – must make a contribution to the economy and to efforts to achieve pre-pandemic economic growth. We businesses can boost the economy by investing more and creating more jobs to boost productivity.
We are optimistic about our macroeconomic strength. Our GDP grew by 5.7% in 2021 and by 7.8% in the first half of this year. At FFCCCII, we hope to achieve Philippine economic growth of between 6.5 and 7.5 percent this year. Recently, the Asian Development Bank projected 6.5% growth for the Philippine economy in 2022.
We have confidence in our government’s economic team led by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Bangko Sentral Governor Felipe Medalla, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and others, so we believe we are on the right track. for continued economic recovery.
During our meeting with President Marcos, we also presented an overview of our Federation’s advocacy, as well as some concerns of the business community.
Trade and industry. The manufacturing and agricultural sectors have shown promise in recent years. We call on the government to embark on projects and modernize systems to better support the growth of these industries. Especially in agriculture, to encourage investment in agriculture and support our farmers.
With rising prices being felt around the world, we need a strong agricultural sector to ensure our country’s food self-sufficiency.
Our Federation is also actively pursuing initiatives that will further enhance the confidence of local and foreign investors in doing business in the Philippines.
Transportation. We need comprehensive transport infrastructure development to boost tourism, encourage investment in all regions, reduce traffic congestion in Metro Manila and major cities, and ensure faster delivery of goods. We therefore hope for the continuity of transport infrastructure projects such as the rapid rail network, the construction of new roads, airports and seaports and the renovation of existing terminals and facilities.
In the process, we welcome the “Build, Better, More” (BBM) infrastructure program of the administration of President Marcos.
We also call on the government to address obstacles to doing business such as unreasonable shipping charges and fees imposed by international and domestic shipping companies.
Energy. The high cost of electricity is an ongoing challenge for businesses and for all of us. Our country’s electricity tariffs are the highest in Southeast Asia, which discourages potential investors. We therefore support the development of a viable energy sector that would provide stable and affordable energy to our population.
Tax policies. To have more sustainable revenue growth, it is necessary to continue to improve the tax system to help businesses in our country better compete with our Asian neighbors. This will bring ease of doing business and attract more investors.
Furthermore, we are alarmed by the smuggling of goods that is prevalent in the country, resulting in billions in lost annual revenue. Our Federation supports the government’s efforts to strengthen campaigns against this problem.
Use. This is the main plea of the Federation to promote industrial peace and develop our human resources in order to improve productivity and competitiveness. Our organization is one with the government in promoting and protecting the rights of employees, as required by the Constitution and labor laws.
We share the belief that regular employment is essential to the viability of a business. However, contracting as a form of employment is also an unavoidable reality in certain industries, such as construction and tourism that rely heavily on seasonal employment. As long as it operates within the confines of our legal system, workers’ rights can always be protected and safeguarded.
Peace and order. Our Federation is a strong supporter of peace and order efforts in the country. We pursue various peace and order initiatives in partnership with the PNP and law enforcement agencies to fight crime. The FFCCCII has also been a member of the Community Pillar of the National Police Commission for many years.
Knowing that peace and order is one of the government’s most important programs, we hope to see great improvements in the fight against crime so that investors and business people stay and continue to do business in the country.
Recently, we coordinated with DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos and PNP Chief PGen Rodolfo Azurin Jr. to discuss the alleged increase in abduction cases involving POGOs. They assured us that the government is determined to solve the problem.
Promoting relations, friendship, trade and investment between the Philippines and China. The Philippines and China established diplomatic relations on June 9, 1975 with the signing of a joint communiqué by President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and Chinese Premier Zhou En Lai. China is our old trading partner and has been a valued investment, import, export and development partner of the Philippines. We hope that our country’s good trade relations, collaborations and partnerships with China will continue and improve further under the administration of President Bongbong Marcos.
Additionally, our Federation has expressed its support for bills in the Senate and House of Representatives for the declaration of the Chinese (Lunar) New Year as a special non-working holiday. Pending its adoption, we hope that the President will issue a Presidential Proclamation to declare the Chinese New Year a public holiday.
Education. Since 1961, Operation: Schools of the Barrio has been the flagship project of our Federation. This involves donating two-classroom school buildings to public schools across the country. More than 6,000 units of school buildings, a total of more than 12,000 classrooms, have been constructed with donations from FFCCCII officers and volunteer donors from the Filipino-Chinese community.
This is our ongoing program to provide convenient learning facilities for our public school students.
Pandemic Relief Efforts and Operation FFCCCII: Bakuna. From 2020 to 2021, our Federation, our foundation and 10 Filipino-Chinese civic associations spearheaded the Filipino-Chinese Community Disaster Fund which raised 300 million pesos for our pandemic relief efforts. We distributed medical supplies and relief kits to help our frontline medical teams, hospitals and barangays in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Our Federation also supported the government’s vaccination program against COVID-19 through our project “FFCCII Operation Bakuna”, which acquired 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines under a tripartite agreement with the government and the supplier of vaccines.
We have rolled out the vaccination of economic frontliners – contractors and employees – nationwide. We are pleased to be the first private sector vaccine deployment program in the Philippines, and the project did not cost the government a single penny.
From the start, we also helped the government facilitate the arrival of Sinovac vaccine donations from China.
Disaster relief efforts. Since 1954, our Federation and our member chambers have been among the first to provide relief in the event of calamities and natural disasters. Most recently, for Typhoon Karding, our Federation led Filipino-Chinese community relief efforts for typhoon victims. Immediately, we distributed 5,500 relief kits containing 5 kilos of rice, sardines, noodles and bottled water in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora. Some 3,000 pieces of GI sheets will be distributed to Tarlac.
We very much appreciate President Marcos’ open-mindedness in addressing the concerns raised and his full support for the future development of our Philippine businesses. We had a fruitful exchange of ideas with the President. And we reaffirmed our support for the government’s efforts to accelerate our economic recovery.
* * *
Opening speech by Henry Lim Bon Liong, President of the FFCCCII, at the Pandesal Forum on October 5, 2022.