Business leaders upbeat on 2023 growth

A LOOK AT 2023 PH ECONOMY Lawyer Benedicta Du-Baladad, Management Association of the Philippines president and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George Barcelon are interviewed by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd during a roundtable on the economic outlook for the Philippines at the paper’s office in Intramuros on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. Also seated is Blanca Mercado (left), Manila Times president and COO. PHOTOS BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

THE heads of two of the country's most influential business associations are optimistic the country will clear the roadblocks that slowed down economic growth during the past two years.

Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) President Benedicta Du-Baladad and Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry (PCCI) President George Barcelon presented their take on the economy in 2023 during an interview with The Manila Times on Friday.

Du-Baladad said she is “cautiously optimistic” about growth prospects for this year, citing the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and external factors such as dampened global trading.

She said the recent Covid resurgence in China that resulted in lockdowns and business closures has impacted the country's economy, since China is the largest trading partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), to which the Philippines belongs.

Barcelon said Asean countries went through the same pandemic and economic problems as the Philippines. “However, we came out ahead. So that means something is good for us,” he said.

Du-Baladad said that because the country is in an economic “sweet spot,” “there is room for catching up” with its neighbors.

She said the government's economic recovery efforts are being helped by partnering with the private sector.

“The government, in partnership with the private sector, must look at our comparative advantage such as strengthening tourism, better infrastructures to generate more activities, the opening of schools, and travel and leisure,” Du-Baladad said.

The two agreed on the need to push digitalization in the country.

“We hope that many or most agencies of the government should be digitalized and that there is interoperability,” Du-Baladad said.

Barcelon said the debate over data privacy concerns that emanate from digitalization involves the “human side” and not the “technical side.”

Du-Baladad also said the information that the government disseminates on paying taxes must be “clear, equitable, and fair so that if people see that their taxes are fair, they will voluntarily pay rather than cheating.”

“There is now pending in the Senate the ease of paying taxes, and they are also working with a taxpayer bill of rights,” she said.

Senate Bill 1346 and House Bill 4125 or the “Ease of Paying Taxes Act” aim to provide a simple and convenient online system for taxpayers.

Republic Act 11032 or the “Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018” also aims to streamline the systems and procedures of government services.

Shifting to the recent decision under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA to allow United States military troops access to four more bases in the Philippines, Barcelon said it will impact on Philippine trade relations with China.

“It does impact business, as we are trying to attract foreign investment,” he said.

“We have to be neutral,” Barcelon stressed.

For Du-Baladad, “it is still a question of what our position is because whether we like it or not, it will have an impact on us.”

Barcelon also expressed misgivings about the K to 12 educational system, saying the chances of a senior high school graduate landing a job are low.

Majority of companies still prefer applicants with a college degree, he said.

Du-Baladad also said the K to 12 system could worsen the problem of job mismatch.

“After graduating high school and senior high school, the question is would there be an industry that would accept them?” she said.

Credit belongs to :

Check Also

Across globe, women battle ‘gendered disinformation’

Former first lady Michelle Bolsonaro speaks at an event where she was presented as the …