BY ROGER BALANZA
Although he admits that the business of business and economics is alien to him, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte earned good grades from his audience at a business forum with his planned economic policy if he is elected President in the May polls.
According to business leaders who joined the forum, Duterte would make a good president if he pursues his peace and order campaign alongside an economic agenda to be hammered out by a team of top economic consultants.
At the GoNegosyo Meet the Presidentiables series in Makati City on February 4, Duterte said he would open more windows for the entry of foreign investments.
ECONOMIC PLANS. Easing barriers to foreign investments and allocating billions of pesos for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are among Duterte’s policy reforms. Photos by Chrisee Dela Paz/Rappler
Compared to other Asian countries, the Philippines lags behind in terms of foreign investments.
Duterte said he would ease barriers to investments by allowing foreign corporations to as much as 70% ownership in all industries.
He said he would also allow 40-year leasing rights on lands to foreign developers.
The Duterte formula in luring foreign investment is back-dropped by pending proposals in Congress to allow land and capital ownership to investors who are currently tied to 40 percent. Economists believe that amending economic provisions of the Constitution un ownership would usher in flow of more foreign investments.
Duterte, who is against allowing foreigners to own land, in another earlier forum said he would lease islands for foreign investors to develop for industries and tourism.
In his speech at the GoNegosyo forum, Duterte said that his economic agenda would also include capital support for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and the review and revision of the Philippine tax system.
Panelists in the forum said they see no problem in Duterte, who is more known for his fight against crime and corruption, successfully pushing his economic policies.
All he needs are competent advisers to make good business decisions should he be elected as president, according to business leaders who attended the forum.
Frankly, Duterte told the forum that business and economics is not his cup of tea but said that he has been advised that if he becomes the president, he should create a committee to deal with the business sector.
Duterte told the GoNegosyo forum, that promoting entrepreneurship would be among his priorities. GoNegosyo is an association of entrepreneurs.
If I’ll be elected as the next president, I will put a sizeable amount in the trade department to help MSMEs. It could be billions of pesos, Duterte vowed.
Without much elaboration, Duterte said he would order a review of the tax system.
I am told to be careful regarding this matter, because conditions today might not be the conditions tomorrow. I will create a committee to deal with taxation, Duterte said.
While some business leaders in the forum say that business and economics are not his strength, others said he was in the right track in giving priority on peace and order.
Unanimously, the business leaders said Duterte as President needs a good team of business consultants.
But they also said Duterte promoting peace and order is a good start to achieve a better business climate.
When you fight crime, you have a peaceful nation. Then all the other things happen, according to one businessman.
Another summed up Duterte with a positive note: “Yes, I think he is okay for business because we all know what his priorities are and what he has done in Davao. So I think that is what he wants to replicate: Solving corruption, fighting criminality. So when there is peace and order, it can help the development of our business climate.