President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has spelled out policies Monday that will help the country recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
In his 5th State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa, President Duterte called on Congress to fast-track the passage of several measures to help the country recover such as the Corporate Recovery and the Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE Act.
The legislation aims to immediately cut corporate income levy from the current 30 to 25 percent and give the government flexibility to grant a combination of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, among others.
The President said Congress must also pass the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer or FIST Act. The proposal will set up mechanisms allowing banks and other financial institutions to dispose of and transfer non-performing assets and loans to asset management companies similar to Special Purpose Vehicles.
He said Infrastructure investment is also seen as an effective tool to help spur high growth, attract investments, create jobs, and achieve financial inclusion for all Filipinos.
For this reason, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has resumed the construction of the North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link, the NLEX-SLEX Connector, the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, the R-1 Bridge Project, the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway Project, and the Subic Freeport Expressway Project.
Infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build Program are ongoing to realize the maximum benefit from the country’s investments.
To create jobs, the President said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) launched an online mode of livelihood and skills training, offering 71 free online courses.
“I ask the TESDA to come up with special training programs to retool our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) so they can find employment opportunities here at home. I am also calling on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for scholarship programs for the qualified dependents of our OFWs,” he said.
“I direct the Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to come up with agri-business and entrepreneurship projects to help displaced OFWs rebuild their livelihood. Further, I ask the LANDBANK and other government financial institutions to continue providing low-interest loans to our OFWs,” he added.
The government will also intensify its efforts to help businesses, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs, by providing responsive government assistance and services, capitalization, and business operations support.
And to help MSMEs recover, President Duterte said the DTI, through the Small Business Corp., has set up the P1-billion COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises or CARES Program to provide zero-interest loans for MSMEs.
“As of July 10, 2020, over 2,600 loan applications worth P182.5 million have been approved. We are optimistic that this initiative will help our MSMEs stabilize and recover from their losses,” he said.
At the same time, the Chief Executive called on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and banks operating in the country to provide regulatory relief for MSMEs and allow loan payment extensions without incurring penalties and charges.
Such regulatory relief will help prevent the collapse of companies saddled with accumulated amortizations and payables caused by the closure of their businesses at the height of the strict quarantine periods, he said.
Recognizing the tourism and recreation industries as among the hardest hit by the pandemic, the President threw his full support for their recovery.
Despite some restrictions, the national government agencies and the local government units (LGUs) must harmonize their policies to boost tourism while ensuring everyone’s well-being, he noted.
Although the President welcomed the developments in the e-commerce industry, he said regulatory controls must be put in place to protect consumers.
“We must patrol the country’s cyberspace and enforce online consumer and data protection and privacy laws. We must run after online scammers and those undermining the people’s trust in online transactions. We must continue to protect Filipinos in the new normal and remind the world that we are responsible stewards of data,” President Duterte said.
He also called for the country’s transition to online systems and directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), along with all government agencies, to adopt a paper-less type business and work performance.
“We need e-governance to provide our people with the services they need from the comfort of their homes or workplaces. It will enable our bureaucracy to better transition into in the ‘new normal’ and cut or minimize red tape,” he said. PND