Vice presidential bets show what they can do for MSMEs
MANILA — Four vice presidential candidates faced off Monday night in a debate, to show the nuts and bolts of their economic programs, particularly for small-to-medium-scale businessmen, who should form the backbone of an expanding middle class in the country.
While Leni Robredo stressed the importance of character for the job of being the next highest official of the land, her rivals, Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Francis Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV, went directly to the basics of their platforms.
The “Go Negosyo Talks: Meet the Vice Presidentiables” at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City on Monday, saw Trillanes and Escudero practically laying down the same plans and programs to realize the thrust of their common presidential candidate, Sen. Grace Poe.
Embarrassed laughter was heard from the crowd when Trillanes called Poe his running mate and added he fully supported Poe’s programs in seeking the country’s development.
In his opening statement, Escudero said that he and Poe would strive to create a government with a heart, describing it as “neither immune nor insensitive.”
As part of his campaign promise, he said that their tandem would push for a national budget with not less than 20 percent for social services; an allocation of not less than 30 percent for agriculture or raising to P300 billion from just P80 billion; and not less than 30 percent for Mindanao in the first year of their term.
Marcos stuck to the “Go Negosyo” focus on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), taking note of the fact that they make up 99.6 percent of the country’s businesses, which create 65 percent of jobs.
He said that he would work to reduce hindrances for MSMEs in terms of financial access as well as the high cost of doing business. Marcos cited a World Bank report, which has shown that starting a business would take 16 procedures in at least 29 days.
The country, he noted, has been ranked 165th in the world in terms of “ease of doing business” below New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. He said that as vice president, he would help push for more MSME-related policies and institute better credit and financial services.
Trillanes said that he would help Poe fight corruption, reduce poverty and strengthen conditions for peace and order, which have become the main problems of the country.
Robredo explained why she focused on the importance of character in running for public office, rather than specifying her specific plans of action for business: candidates were usually compelled to say what the public wanted to hear. “Character is the most important measure of leadership,” she said, and went on to introduce herself as the widow of a public servant who accepted the challenge of leadership.
Asked for bold measures to improve the business climate for MSMEs, most of the vice presidential aspirants offered broad plans of action, but Escudero said that he would push for faster internet service for paperless transactions; legalizing one person-corporations; and lowering taxes by 20 percent to 24 percent.
He added that he would push for Bureau of Internal Revenue uniforms with no pocket and tables with no drawers or even glass desks.
Marcos said that just simplifying the procedures would be a big help to entrepreneurs. SFM
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