Marcos to economic managers: Reconsider ‘draconian regime of no ecozones’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Imee Marcos urged President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team on Wednesday to reconsider its “draconian regime of no ecozones.”
“We share your impassioned plea to economic managers to reconsider this draconian regime of no ecozones and constantly ‘rationalizing’ the already meager incentives,” Marcos said during the hearing of the Senate committee on economic affairs.
The senator echoed Senator Richard Gordon’s reminder to economic managers of the importance of getting new investments to provide more jobs for Filipinos.
This, as officials of the Department of Finance (DoF) and National Economic Development Authority (Neda), stood firm against legislating new ecozones being tackled by the committee.
Marcos, head of the panel, authored one of the bills that seek to create a special economic zone and freeport in the province of Ilocos Norte.
At the start of the hearing, however, Neda Assistant Secretary Greg Pineda reiterated the Cabinet economic team’s position that the creation of more tax-free zones “does not always guarantee economic success.”
Juvee Danofrata of the DoF said they also have “concerns” on the creation of economic zones through legislation.
“The current policy right now is we can create economic zones and free zones through encouraging the private sector to do it rather than the government so that the fiscal burden or the funds or resources are not taken out from the government,” Danofrata said.
“Aside from that, we also don’t see much incentives from the creation of economic zones in terms of encouraging investments towards these areas or locations…” she added but was cut short by Marcos.
“Are you sure about what you’re saying?” Marcos asked, “This is outrageous!”
The senator also later said she was “utterly and completely perplexed” by the DoF’s consistent stance against ecozones even after Congress’ approval of the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act.
Duterte, however, has yet to sign the measure.
“E liliit na nga yung pinagkokolektahan, ayaw pang lakihan, yun ang problema dyan. Your pie is shrinking and at the same time, you don’t want to increase yung size of the pie,” Marcos lamented.
Marcos found an ally in Gordon, who was chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
“I think tama si Senator Marcos, aba’y magpakita naman kayo ng gilas Department of Finance, Department of Trade. Kaya nakikita nyo pag nagtatanong ako sa budget, marami kayong trade representatives abroad. Ilan bang negosyo ang naipasok sa Pilipinas ? Di makasagot. Yan ang problema,” Gordon said.
(I think Senator Marcos is right, you have to step up Department of Finance, Department of Trade. That’s why during budget hearings, I ask why you have so many trade representatives and how many investments did you bring to the Philippines. They could not answer. That’s the problem.)
“Makinig kayo. Kami ang hinalal ng bayan e hindi naman kayo e… (Listen to us. We’re the ones elected, not you),” he said.”
“So ako nakikiusap sa inyo, kayo ang mga nag aattend ng mga hearing, paabot nyo sa mga talagang siga sa mga department ninyo na parang nahihibang sila na kung walang tayong kukunin investors, walang trabaho ang Pilipino,” he stressed.
(So I’m appealing to you who attend the hearing to relay to your bosses that if we don’t get investors, then there is no job for Filipinos.)
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