‘Prioritize bills seeking to cut red tape, hike foreign investments’

Lawmakers last Sunday urged the leadership of the 17th Congress and President Duterte to focus on measures that will promote the Philippines as a “business-friendly economy” and allow the country to attract more foreign investments.

House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms Chairman and Party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Cibac, House Committee on Appropriations Chairman and Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao City and House Committee on Trade and Industry member and Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez of Leyte made this pronouncement on the eve of the President’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona).

“[I am hoping] President Duterte will mention measures that will make it easier to do business in the Philippines in his second Sona,” Tugna said.

“Simple and widespread red tape and slow action in processing permits and licenses in the LGUs [local government units] and government agencies results in corruption and day-to-day under the table transactions,” he added.

Nograles said there are a number of pending bills that  have long-term benefits that need to be passed.

These measures, Nograles said, are “An Act Rightsizing the National Government to Improve Public Service Delivery” and “An Act to Reform the Budget Process by Enforcing Greater Accountability in Public Financial Management, Promoting Fiscal Sustainability, Strengthening Congress’ Power of the Purse, Instituting an Integrated PFM System and Increasing Budget Transparency and Participation, and for Other Purposes”.

Nograles added the Duterte administration can also push the “Zero Hunger” bill and bills providing for universal health care, establishing free basic medicine assistance, the Traffic Crisis Act and the Universal ID System Act.

House Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairman and Party-list Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said the shift to a federal form of government is the “missing link” in President Duterte’s inclusive growth agenda.

Villafuerte said the Duterte administration’s vision for the Philippines to eradicate poverty and grow into a high-middle income economy by 2040 can—and will—happen with the shift to the “growth-friendlier” federal system of government.

“Malacañang is on the right track in pursuing its multitrillion peso ‘Build, Build, Build’ agenda that aims to fill our decades-old infrastructure backlog. But redistributing wealth to the countryside requires a bold makeover—as envisioned by President Duterte,” he added.

House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu said topping the House agenda are the proposed 2018 General Appropriations Act, supplemental fund for the Marawi City rehabilitation and charter change and civil union bill.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas of Ilocos Norte said leaders of the 17th Congress will still meet on Wednesday to set the final agenda for the second regular session.

The second regular session will open at 10 a.m., which will be followed by the singing of the National Anthem then by the invocation and then be adjourned until 4 p.m. for the President’s Sona.

All set for Sona

House Secretary-General and Task Force Sona 2017 Chairman Cesar Strait Pareja said the lower chamber is ready for the second Sona of Duterte.

The theme of the second Sona is “A comfortable life for all Filipinos” with a focus on prosperity for all, law and order and peace.”

Pareja added the chamber has addressed all matters pertaining to internal and external security and safety, protocol arrangements, reception, media coverage, parking and other necessary engineering needs among others, to ensure a safe, secure and orderly holding of the Sona this year.

“We are very much prepared for the Sona. So far, there are no major hitches in the Sona preparations,” Pareja said.

“Our security forces are very prepared. It was discussed during the meeting to hope for the best, but you prepare for the worst,” Pareja added.