JAZA lauds gov’t ‘bold­ness’ in in­fra and tax re­form

Manila Bulletin - - Business News - By CHINO S. LEYCO

The head of one of the Philip­pines’ lead­ing busi­ness con­glom­er­ates lauded the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion for tak­ing the un­usu­ally “bold step” of push­ing tax re­form and em­bark­ing on an am­bi­tious in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram at a time when the econ­omy is in a “po­si­tion of strength” to han­dle chal­lenges.

Jaime Au­gusto Zo­bel de Ayala, who cur­rently sits as chair­man of Ayala Corp. and its other vast busi­ness in­ter­ests, said that such “bold­ness” on the part of the govern­ment “au­gurs well for a coun­try that has tremen­dous po­ten­tial to move up to a far greater de­gree than we have within the ASEAN (As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions) con­text.”

“I have to say that I’m im­pressed by the bold­ness that our govern­ment is show­ing. We are a na­tion that has got­ten used to in­cre­men­tal steps for­ward,” Zo­bel said.

“But as you can see from the di­a­logue that we had to­day, there is a sense of bold­ness in the way peo­ple are look­ing to the fu­ture. That is some­thing that you gen­er­ally see more in the pri­vate sec­tor than the public sec­tor,” the ty­coon added.

He noted that “through­out our his­tory as a coun­try, there have been pe­ri­ods of time when we felt inse­cure, dur­ing pe­ri­ods of high debt and when our econ­omy was weak.”

“I’ve al­ways ar­gued that think­ing ‘bold steps’, whether you are in the pri­vate sec­tor or the public sec­tor, are im­por­tant psy­cho­log­i­cal states of mind to be in when you want to suc­ceed in a much big­ger way,” the busi­ness­man added.

Zo­bel and other Philip­pine ty­coons have ex­pressed their sup­port to the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “Build, Build, Build” pro­gram that in­volves spend­ing be­tween R8 tril­lion and R9 tril­lion over the next five years to close the coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture gap.

Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los G. Dominguez III said the govern­ment re­quires an “au­da­cious” eco­nomic strat­egy that would en­able the Philip­pines to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the poverty rate to 14 per­cent by 2022 and trans­form the coun­try into an up­per mid­dle in­come-econ­omy by that time.

This strat­egy will en­able the govern­ment to sus­tain the Philip­pines’ growth mo­men­tum, at­tract in­vest­ments and cre­ate jobs, and achieve eco­nomic in­clu­sion, he said.

Dominguez said Pres­i­dent Duterte’s tax re­form pack­age now pend­ing in the Congress is an in­dis­pens­able com­po­nent to chart­ing this vi­brant fu­ture for Filipinos.

He pointed out that af­ter be­ing sad­dled with a debt bur­den and the Asian fi­nan­cial cri­sis for many years, the coun­try is now en­joy­ing a “Cin­derella mo­ment” when it is al­ready highly ca­pa­ble of shift­ing the source of growth to an “in­vest­ment-led” one that cre­ates jobs and opens more eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for Filipinos.

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