Presidential bets bare economic platforms

Five presidential aspirants bared recently to the business community about their economic platforms when elected in the top national position.

During the 47th Philippine Business Conference and Expo of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s largest business organization, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senators Bong Go, Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, and Vice President Leni Robredo were given the chance to discuss their programs for the economy.

Moreno aims to slash taxes on two basic commodities –petroleum and electricity.

“While it is true that this will be a loss of substantial enough revenues for our government, it will also, at the other side of the coin, alleviate the sufferings of our people. It will also increase their purchasing power which will stimulate consumer spending,” he said.

Moreno said the Philippines should also move from business process outsourcing to knowledge process outsourcing, creating high quality jobs for Filipinos.

The Manila mayor added he will continue the Build, Build, Build program of the current administration, but its focus will be building affordable housing.

Go vowed to continue the comprehensive tax reform program, national rice program, Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program, and the Build, Build, Build, program, among others.

“The Duterte admin(istration) has accomplished so much, far more than what previous administrations have done. We must only have to sustain the gains of this administration, and in order to continue the gains of these achievements and gains under the able leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I am presenting myself to the public,” Go said.

Lacson said he will prioritize key infrastructure projects especially on transportation, inter-island connectivity, regional food terminals, and health facilities.

“Build, Build, Build (program) completed only 11 out of 119 flagship projects as of second quarter of 2021,” he said.

The lawmaker added that in the past five years, PHP78 billion were spent for preventive maintenance of roads and other infrastructure and not based on the needs of the people.

“Itigil ang pagbubungkal ng maayos pang kalsada (Stop excavating roads that are in still good condition)” Lacson said.

Pacquaio said his administration will further cut corporate income tax from the current 25 percent to 15 percent.

He added the government should focus on revenue generation but boosting the non-tax revenues of the government.

According to the Department of Finance, non-tax revenues of the government only account for less than 10 percent of the total revenues.

Most government revenues come from taxes collected from the Bureau of Internal Revenues and the Bureau of Customs.

Pacquiao said based on his discussions with foreign investors, they are discouraged to locate in the Philippines due to unreliable power sources and internet connection, as well as high corporate income tax.

The retired boxing champ said he will push for a clean government by eliminating all corrupt officials.

Even with the higher allocation for infrastructure and education during this administration, Robredo said she will improve spending in these two sectors.

“Infrastructure spending has to be improved. It’s not about building more, but about building better; making sure that quality is assured, corruption is eliminated, and the infrastructure building actually contributes in making the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable better,” Robredo said.

She added infrastructure projects will be shifted away from car-centric public budgeting to building more bus rapid transit, protected bike lanes, safe pathways, safe bus stops, and railways for Filipinos’ long-term needs.

When elected as president, Robredo also aims to increase education spending from the current 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 6 percent, as recommended by the United Nations.

She said her administration will roll out a national assessment program that will diagnose the missed learning of students due to the pandemic and will guide a remediation program to help in addressing learning losses.

All five candidates expressed the need to protect and give more support to the agriculture and fisheries sector, and lowering overall cost of borrowings for micro, small and medium enterprises.

How they want to be remembered this election

Win or lose, this is how the presidential aspirants want to be remembered during this election:

“I guarantee you there will be certainty and predictability in doing business (with the) government and equal opportunity and level playing field (in) the business sector under my watch.” –Moreno

“Hindi ko hahayaang masayang lang ang pagod ng Duterte administration (I will not let the efforts of the Duterte administration go to waste.)” –Go

“I wish to be remembered as a public servant who had uncompromising principles; one who can walk the talk and walk away from the politics, entertainment, doublespeak, and lip service.” –Lacson

“Gusto kong maalala ako ng taong bayan na Manny Pacquiao, nagmamahal nang tunay sa ating bansa at walang personal na interes para sa sarili at pamilya, kundi dedikasyon para umunlad ang ating bayan, dedikasyon para makatulong sa sambayanang Pilipino at ‘di maranansan ng bawat pamilya ang paghihirap na naranasan ko noon (I want to be remembered by our countrymen as Manny Pacquiao,who truly loves our country and has no personal interest for himself and his family, but dedication to the development of our country, dedication to help the Filipino people, so that Filipino families will not have to experience the sufferings I had experienced before.)” –Pacquiao

“I simply want to be remembered as a public servant who did everything she could with whatever platforms or resources she had to uplift and make a difference to uplift the lives of the people around her. A vice presient who transformed her office mandate and did not allow the limitations to keep her doing the work that matters.” –Robredo (PNA)