Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, House Ways and Means Committee chair, has identified a 20-point agenda the next administration needs to focus on for a strong post pandemic economic recovery, led by a new “agricultural revolution, science and technology – research and development, and a digital transformation with a national broadband network.”
Addressing the recent ‘10th Arangkada Philippines: Pathways to a Better Future’ forum of the Joint Foreign Chambers, Salceda also called for the enactment of pending key legislations, among them the amendments to the Public Service Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Ease of Paying Taxes Act or EOPT, all aimed to boost the country’s bid for more foreign direct investment (FDI).
These bills, which Salceda authored in the lower house, are all aimed at lifting the barriers for more FDIs, particularly tax uncertainty with EOPT that increases the “hurdle rate” or the profit margins required by an investor before investing in the Philippines, by 3.43%.
Top on Salceda’s “20-Point Agenda for the Next Administration” is what he termed as the ‘Second Agricultural Revolution,” with government—support harmonization, farmer and land consolidation, and condonation of agrarian reform loans, among others.
Salceda stressed the country needs a strong agriculture program that would increase stability and food production to counter price hikes as the country picks its way towards recovery, especially since agriculture “has been the most undercapitalized industrial sector in the country.”
He noted tat agriculture in the Philippines still has so many self-imposed restrictions on land size, efficiency, use, and ownership. An Agri-revolution should “ease some of these restrictions while investing in its development…”
Science and Technology and Research and Development for Change or S4CP and “Digital Transformation and a National Broadband,” is second and third in Salceda’s list. The others are: 4) Education: Learner nutrition, Teacher empowerment, Optional K-12, Stronger ALS; 5) TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) – Skills over College Diplomas, Meister schools;
6) Filipinos on the Move – Rural Infrastructure; 7) Mass Public Transport; 8) Indigenous Renewable Energy; Healthcare Reforms—Health for All; 9) Quality Housing for All; 10) Universal Basic Income through UCT (Unconditional Cash Transfer) and TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers), Unemployment Insurance and Sustainable Livelihood;
11) Rule of Institutions, rules-based, science-based, data-driven; 12) Foreign Investments and Domestic Competition – Breaking down oligarchs and cartels; 13) MSMEs of the Future — Business Incubation, India model of fund-of-fund, and Entrepreneur class; 14) ‘Rurbanization’– Countryside Development and Optimizing Devolution;
15) BBB for Creative Industries (Korean Model); 16) Stronger Foreign Relations with US, India and Israel, ASEAN, Japan, South Korea and
Australia, and optimized economic ties with China; 17) Modernizing Public-Private Partnership beyond Infrastructure; 18) A Tax System for the 21st Century – Reforms against tax evasion and shifting;
19) Deeper and broader capital and financial market – Make every Filipino family an investor; 20) Modern and credible national security – Responding to emerging and unconventional threats.
HB 9955 which Salceda filed in the lower house, seeks to strengthen farmers’ land ownership in the country and boost investments, remove many of the flaws and hindrances to growth in the agriculture sector. He also
crafted HB 10154, the Science and Technology for Change (S4CP) bill which the House passed last September and now pending in the Senate.
Science for Change aims to help ensure a conducive ecosystem for scientific and technological development in the country, as global wealth becomes increasingly built on technological advances. To fast-track the country’s digital transformation, Salceda has pushed for a P3 billion allocation for the National Broadband Program of the government in the 2022 General Appropriations Budget.
He stressed that the next administration should push for a stronger digital transformation of the country, specially so because businesses, jobs and learning institutions have started to shift to the use of internet during the long lockdowns, and have started to appreciate the advantages of the online world.