Duterte’s 8-point economic agenda targets rural development, uplifting lives of the poor

Duterte’s 8-point economic agenda targets rural development, uplifting lives of the poor

DAVAO CITY — The economic team of presumptive president Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has presented the eight-point economic agenda of the incoming administration that will impact more on rural development, targeting to uplift the lives of the two thirds of the population especially those who are below poverty line.

Presented by former cabinet member and head of Duterte’s campaign finance committee, Carlos Dominguez, the eight-point economic agenda calls for tax reforms, accelerating infrastructure spending, attracting foreign investments, agricultural development, creating more jobs and expanding the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).

First, Dominguez said the incoming administration would continue and maintain the current macroeconomic policies. This will mean reforms in tax revenue collection efforts of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC). This will be complemented by reforms within the bureaucracy of the two tax collecting agencies.

He said this will fulfill Duterte’s goal of less corruption in government. It may be recalled that one of Duterte’s campaign platforms is curbing corruption in government.

Second is to accelerate infrastructure spending by addressing, among others, major bottlenecks in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program, and maintain the target of setting aside five percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to infrastructure spending.

Dominguez noted inadequate infrastructure in the country. He said this will also create jobs and inject economic activity.

Third is to ensure attractiveness of the Philippines to foreign direct investments (FDI) by addressing restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution and laws, and enhancing competitiveness of the economy.

This means, Dominguez said, following Davao City’s model on licensing for doing business wherein Duterte has given the shortest possible time to help the business sector. He said this will also mean reducing crime to attract people to do business and ensuring security of businessmen and the consumers.

Dominguez said this also means reducing the number of signatories. He said the administration will focus on critical agencies. Identifying the agencies are a work in progress.

The fourth agenda is to pursue a genuine agricultural development strategy by providing support services to the small farmers to increase their productivity, improve their market access, and develop the agricultural value chain by forging partnership with agribusiness firms.

According to Dominguez, the Duterte administration will focus on improving productivity in the farms by providing irrigation and support services. This was also one of the commitments of Duterte during the campaign.

“This will encourage more agricultural processing in agricultural areas,” said Dominguez, adding that this is aimed towards rural development and focus on the 2/3 of the population that are poor and living in the rural areas.

Under the agenda, Dominguez said the administration will also promote tourism, focusing in the rural areas. “Our country is beautiful,” he said. He stressed that every tourist’s dollar will have an effect on rural development.

The fifth agenda is to address the bottlenecks in the land administration and management system. Dominguez said there are four agencies — Land Registration Administration, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for the IP areas, and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) — which are doing land administration functions. But Dominguez said there is no coordination between the agencies in security land tenure.

Dominguez said the team sees that solid security land tenure encourages rural investment

The sixth agenda is to strengthen basic education system and provide scholarships for tertiary education which are relevant to the needs of the private sector.

Dominguez said they would expand scholarship programs and work on matching what is taught with what is the mandate in the field.

Seventh is to improve the income tax system to make it progressive to enable those who earn little to have more money in their pockets. Dominguez emphasized on indexing the tax collection aggregation to inflation.

The eighth agenda is to expand and improve implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program mainly by indexing tax to inflation so that the amount received by people will be maintained.

Dominguez also said they will make sure that the new administration hits the ground running fully and staffed with qualified people. Lilian Mellejor/PNA/northboundasia.com