By Ed Velasco
As the new administration is set to reign in the next six years, there are three very important reforms and actions that are worth trying if it aims to spur economic activity and development.
“President Marcos can all it an unsolicited advice but there are is nothing wrong if he will take notice,” Calixto Chikiamco, a political economist, told CURRENTph and True Press.
These are removing the quantitative restrictions (QR) in importing pork, chicken, fish, sugar and corn; allow foreign players to participate in renewable energy sector; and condone the debts of farmers who benefited from the agrarian reform program decades ago.
The QR in importing the mentioned items is unhelpful because it restricts the free entry of non-local items, thus making it easier for cartels to manipulate the prices of the basic goods.
“Instead, impose tariff so that the national government can use the funds to subsidize farmers and fisher folks,” the economist added.
He said there is a need to remove the QR in importing those items because of the too high prices of these items locally. “The price of sugar here is eight times than in Thailand. Corn (price) is double than in Thailand,” he added.
No Import Limit
Removing the QR in these items just means extending the rice tariffication law which means there is no limit in importing rice in exchange for tariff, he explained.
Pat Sigue, a newsman-farmer, said farmers are the most oppressed members of the Philippine society because they have been neglected for decades now.
“Look at those tomatoes being thrown away. That’s a sign that many farmers are now losing hope because they can’t sell their produce and if ever they can sell, the price is too low,” Sigue, who tills a 20-hectare farm in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro, said.
No Need For Congress OK
For the renewable energy sector, Chikiamco said there is no need for Congressional approval in allowing foreign players to invest in local RE setup because the IRR of the DoE allows foreign investors to put up wind turbine, solar installations and other environment-friendly power plants.
The political economist said the Philippines’ RE industry is widely enjoyed by local players, thus making it impossible to bring power rates at more affordable level.
The five biggest power players are also the five biggest conglomerates in the country—San Miguel Corp., Aboitiz, Ayala, Lopez Group and Metro Pacific Investment Corp.
Allowing foreign players to take part in RE industry will surely result in lower power price because the public will have more choices. “It’s economics on scale, the more suppliers the lower the prices. No more controls in rates,” he added.
Dark Horse In Ph Development
For the last unsolicited advice, he said condoning the debts incurred by farmers who were given lands to till will be a big help so that the money intended for paying can be used to buy seedlings or farm machinery.
“This is the best subsidy farmers can get,” the official added.
He said debt payment is a major problem for farmers especially today that the market for almost local produce is too small due to the influx of imported items most from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Amor Maclang, a known public relations veteran, said three years ago tourism is the dark horse in Philippine development.
“The Philippines is not all about Bora. We have more to offer; we just need to open our eyes and introduce these places to the world,” the woman said.
She mentioned the beautiful beaches, lakes and lagoons in Leyte, Masbate, La Union, Palawan, Batanes, Aurora and Surigao del Sur as among those with very high tourism potentials.
The only support these provinces need is the marketing, more flights and more paved and accessible roads to reach the sun-kissed lakes and beaches, she explained.
Balabac, the southernmost town of Palawan near the Malaysian border, for instance is very hard to reach, according to Palawan travel guide.
“The closest airport to Balabac is in Puerto Princesa. From there, you need to travel to either Rio Tuba port or Buliluyan port and then ride a boat to Balabac. It will take you at least a day to get to Balabac, the guide said in its website.
According to Maclang, the very big challenge is to make the hidden wonders of these provinces more accessible to tourists.
“We look at Cobacabana, Malibu, Bondi with high praises but we don’t realize that we have so many better than those beaches,” she said.