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Time for Phl economy to be on offensive mode

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TAX reform measures will boost the economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, suggested a lawmaker.

The national government must resort to “offensive” strategies that will focus on revitalization to reverse the economic downturn the coronavirus pandemic has triggered.

Economic opportunities are created by attracting new industries and investments, jobs and opportunities, streams of revenue and approaches to boosting market confidence.

“The government should be on attack and not on the defensive mode,” said Albay (2nd district) Representative Joey Salceda.

To be on the offensive side, Salceda called anew for the enactment of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which has long been pending in Congress, and the implementation of the enhanced “Build, Build, Build” program.

Salceda issued a 34-point manifesto aimed to help President Duterte’s defeat COVID-19 program and rescue the economy, points which the Chief Executive are expected to be included in fifth State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on Monday.

“These times call for courage. We cannot defeat this virus, nor the slump it has created in the economy, by hiding. We have done what are necessary to keep this pandemic from growing exponentially,” Salceda said.

Despite serious constraints and limitations of our own means, epidemiological models suggest we may have prevented as much as much as 3.5 million infections by taking the necessary lockdown measures, noted Salceda.

“We cannot defeat the economic recession which will very likely happen, by trying to stop change,” said Salceda. “We can’t save every job. The economy has changed too much, but we can try to create more than one new job for every old job lost. And we can train people to fit these new jobs.”

Moody’s Investor Service recently maintained its “Baa2” rating, in effect since December 2014, for the Philippines’ long-term local and foreign currency issuers and senior unsecured debts. Outlook was maintained at “stable” despite downgrading 18 other countries and revising outlooks to “negative” for 27 others.

Baa2 means a “high ability or acceptable ability to repay short term debts.”

The credit rating is seen as a vote of confidence on the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals amid unprecedented collapse of the global economy due to the health crisis.

Salceda said Moody’s report cites “proposed changes to the Foreign Investments Act, the Public Service Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, as well as the remaining thrusts of the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program” as reforms they are watching.

As principal author of the reform measures, Salceda said “we have to keep thinking hard about how to improve our systems and how to build an ecosystem that is conducive to economic innovation.”

He emphasized that the latest development is a sign that the Philippines will “bounce back very strongly” from the pandemic, but these “fundamentals are not enough in a country’s long-term prospects, and reversal of reforms that have supported prior gains in economic and fiscal strength would also likely lead to a downgrade.”

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