04 August 2014

PH gov’t urged to fast track projects that will propel cargo traffic to Batangas, Subic

Philippine business groups and joint foreign chambers (PBG-JFC) have expressed their support for shifting cargo traffic from Manila to Batangas and Subic to help stimulate economic activities in the two areas.

Prior to the President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address on July 28, the PBG-JFC sent him a letter dated July 21 containing a list of key issues and proposed measures the group strongly believes will “help achieve our shared vision of inclusive growth through job generation, poverty reduction, and global competitiveness.”

One of group’s suggestions is “to shift cargo traffic from the Port of Manila to the Ports of Subic and Batangas and support these with parallel initiatives to stimulate economic activities in these areas, and to reduce the cost of logistics.”

The group is also asking to fast track construction of the North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway Connector, as well as the feeder road that will connect it to the Port of Manila.

The group believes this will “facilitate the movement of goods to and from production sites and our major ports.”

For the aviation sector, the group reiterated its call for a multi-airport system, in which the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Clark International Airport, and a future third airport will serve the country’s current and prospective aviation requirements.

“On this note, we strongly believe that we should continue to enhance the advantages given by an international gateway in close proximity to the National Capital Region, while complementing this with further improvements in the capacity of Clark International Airport,” the letter said.

Noting that public-private partnership initiatives have steadily gained steam since 2010, with close to 50 projects for implementation, PBG-JFC said they fully support the government’s efforts to raise infrastructure spending to 5% of GDP by 2016.

The PBG-JFC also underscored the pressing need to bridge the wide infrastructure gap to support the economy, mainly through completion of these pipeline infrastructure projects as soon as possible.

The business sector likewise welcomed Aquino’s pronouncement at the recent Daylight Dialogue that he plans to issue an executive order institutionalizing a mechanism for public-private cooperation that instills integrity in governance.

It encouraged government agencies to follow the Department of Public Works and Highways’ lead and compel companies bidding for government contracts to sign an integrity pledge and commit themselves to ethical business conduct.

Furthermore, the group is pushing for the immediate enactment and enforcement of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act currently pending in both chambers of Congress.

PBG-JFC noted that in a forum with business organizations, Customs Commissioner John Sevilla estimated the value of smuggled merchandise in 2011 alone to be between P350 billion and P1.4 trillion.

“This hole must be plugged,” the group said.

Moreover, PBG-JFC reiterated its proposal for high-level government representatives to continuously engage the private sector in a joint effort to address smuggling, similar in form to a Cabinet-level oversight committee with private sector participation, something that was done in previous administrations.

The letter was signed by representatives from the Makati Business Club, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc., Employers Confederation of the Philippines, IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, Alyansa Agrikultura, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, American Chamber of Commerce, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, European Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber, Korean Chamber of Commerce, and Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters. (PortCalls Asia)

PHOTO: The New Container Terminal (NCT) in Subic Bay Freeport