Seven business groups and six foreign chambers called on the House and Senate to pass the remaining priority economic reform bills as Congress approaches the last two weeks of the 18th Congress.
In letters sent to House and Senate leaders, the business groups and chambers commended legislators for the enactment of landmark legislation such as the Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act, and the amendments to the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and Foreign Investments Act.
The groups also called on Congress to pass additional achievable reforms in the remaining session days of the 18th Congress.
In their letters to Congress, the groups urged legislators to pass the bills that have passed the House and require counterpart action in the Senate.
These are the Ease of Paying Taxes bill, Open Access in Data Transmission, Philippine Creative Industries, Promotion of Digital Payments, Tax Reform Package 3: Property Valuation and Assessment Reform, and Tax Reform Package 4: Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation.
The groups also looked forward to the ratification of the reconciled version of the bills that are currently under bicameral conference committee deliberation.
These are the Philippine Transportation Safety Board Creation and Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act.
In the letter sent to the Senate, the business groups and chambers also strongly encouraged ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
Signatories to the letters were business groups Bankers Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc. and Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc.
Foreign chambers that have signed the petition were the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. and Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc.
Meanwhile, a congressional leader has appealed to the incoming administration of presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to raise the research and development (R&D) sector budget to one percent of Gross Domestic Product over five years.
At the same time, Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, also urged the incoming administration to retain the Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Pena in his Cabinet.
“The 2022 research and development sector budget is 18 percent higher than it was in 2021. But we need to grow our R&D budget faster than that. It has to increase by 600 percent to get to a competitive level. In other words, the budget needs to compound by around 30 percent instead of 18 percent every year,” Salceda said.
“Given our current starting point, and assuming the next administration enacts the bill in its first year, by the end of its term, we can reach the 1 percent of GDP prescribed by UNESCO as the minimum R&D investment for a country to be competitive,” Salceda added.