Moving and going ‘forward faster’

Top experts share their insights on how the Philippines and businesses can speed up the country’s economic recovery, grow further, and build a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, QBO Innovation Hub, and IdeaSpace Foundation

Poverty is the country’s greatest ill. So we need to create jobs to give people an income and lift them up. We can start by focusing on MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) since they make up over 90% of the Philippine economy. Government institutions and private banks can loan money to small businessmen to help them restart their livelihoods, many of which were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Several startups, the telcos and others are pushing for the digitalization of MSMEs which would open them up to the growing world of online ordering and distribution.

We should encourage this trend and train our small business owners so they have the technological skills to avail of new resources. We need to incentivize the private sector including foreign companies to invest in the country by giving them tax breaks, easing restrictions on the flow of capital, and removing unnecessary regulation. Let’s make it easier for foreigners to put their money to work here and that includes lifting limitations on the ownership of land and various industries. Their investments will generate jobs and improve the infrastructure while increasing competitiveness in the local economy and freeing it from self-defeating protectionism.

Disasters knock Filipinos back into poverty. Therefore, we should develop tax-free PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) zones in disaster-stricken areas to enable them to rebound faster by encouraging investment and the creation of businesses and jobs. The government will earn more from the added revenues and higher property taxes than it ever would in a normal tax environment. We should upgrade our health care system so that all of our people are healthy and ready to work. In addition, we need to build more resilient communities so that we are better prepared for the more than 20 typhoons that hit the Philippines every year plus the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that come from living in the Pacific Rim of Fire. People are ready when they have business continuity plans in place, emergency supplies, sturdier houses and can move their boats away from danger areas.

We should also advocate for population control to relieve the pressure of having to produce more and more jobs for over 110 million people. Any increase in our growth rate is reduced by increases in population size. We need to improve the educational system to restore our lost advantage of speaking English, as the President has mentioned, to allow Filipinos to compete globally for employment and locally for jobs in the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry. Good governance and a fair and impartial legal system will give our countrymen the best opportunity to rebound from the pandemic and rebuild their lives in safety and prosperity. It is said that fortune favors the bold and if we act boldly, we can finally achieve our dream of making the Philippines a First World country.

Rene “Butch” S. Meily


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