Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GORDON: unity, stability and transformation

Palace hopefuls to business: Investment-friendly climate

Bets zero in on curbing corruption, reducing transaction cost

PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANTS yesterday wooed business leaders by promising an investment-friendly business climate.

Speaking at a presidential forum organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI), the candidates vowed to lower the cost of doing business and streamlining procedures.

Only six candidates were present: Senator Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III of the Liberal Party, former president Joseph E. Estrada of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, Senator Richard J. Gordon of Bagumbayan, former Defense secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. of Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats, evangelist Eduardo C. Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas and Senator Manuel B. Villar, Jr. of the Nacionalista Party.

Four candidates did not confirm their attendance, said organizers. They were: Vetallano Acosta (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan), Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo A. S. Madrigal (independent), Nicanor Jesus P. Perlas III (independent) and John Carlos G. delos Reyes (Ang Kapatiran).

Mr. Teodoro said: "My policy would be to engage the private sector in synergic dialogues and make sure that the measures that have evolved out of these dialogues would be implemented."
He also promised to secondary and tertiary education "so that at postgraduate level they would become efficient members of the private sector," build major thoroughfares to ship goods and simplify business procedures.

For his part, Mr. Villar said he would focus on tourism development, the entry of foreign investments and strengthening labor-intensive sectors.

"The next President should be a good marketing man who is extremely competitive, he said, adding he would prioritize the rationalization of fiscal incentives.

Mr. Aquino, who is tied at the top with Mr. Villar in independent surveys, said his first priority is to eliminate graft and corruption and strengthen law enforcement.

"I will also offer tax breaks for businesses... for example for those that import raw material, VAT (value-added tax) will be imposed at point of sale and not at the time of manufacture," he said.
Mr. Villanueva echoed the war against corruption. "What’s important is the character, will and integrity to implement policies."

He noted the importance of revitalizing the domestic market by providing financial assistance to small and medium enterprises.

Mr. Estrada, who was ousted in 2001 on plunder charges, told businessmen that track record is more important over yet-to-be fulfilled promises.

"During my time we have attained the status of being food self-sufficient. Also during my time there were low levels of kidnapping and carnapping... Are we better off today than in 2000 when I was your President?"

Mr. Gordon, former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman, zeroed in on a three-way platform: unity, stability and transformation.

"First I would unite the country, stop the war in Mindanao, for there can never be real economic progress for the country if not all issues in all parts of the country are addressed, and I would address corruption and poverty to be able to provide stable living conditions for the citizens. Finally, I would venture on the road to transformation by investing in education and inculcating the value of work ethic in Filipinos," he said.

The presidential candidates also noted the importance of consistency in policies so as not to drive away foreign investments.

Asked about their position on the P7.3-billion tax row between the Bureau of Customs and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., all said they are against indiscriminate changes in business policies.

On the issue of amending the Constitution to afford foreigners more access to land, education, professions and the media, all favored adjusting the foreign ownership base to include all proposals except land, which they said, should be reserved for Filipinos.

Miguel B. Varela, PCCI chairman emeritus and head of the organizing committee said in his opening statement, "Job generation, economic recovery, poverty alleviation, and business competitiveness are some of the most pressing issues that the country is facing today. It is important that the next President has definite strategies on how to address these concerns." -- J. F. S. Valdez - bworldonline.com

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