In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered this afternoon, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte laid down measures his administration plans to implement to push the economy forward, even as he continued to focus on his campaign against drugs and lawlessness.
He reiterated the need for reforms to ensure competitiveness and promote ease of doing business so that the country will attract investments in manufacturing, agriculture and tourism that will generate jobs, especially for the poor and unskilled members of the work force.
He mentioned the need to promote entrepreneurship opportunities in rural neighborhoods, where employment is not an option.
Other parts of his speech that had to do with the economic agenda include:
- Investing in human capital to ensure equal access to economic opportunities.
- Retaining the sound macro fundamentals already laid in place.
- Addressing the bottlenecks in business registration and processing, streamlining investment applications process, and integrating the services of various government offices.
- Out-of-the box financing packages to capacitate small and medium entrepreneurs.
- Construction of more access roads and tourism gateways to service centers and tourist sites, to promote the tourism industry.
- Providing modern agriculture infrastructure, including constructing and improving roads and irrigation, establishing modern harvest and post-harvest facilities.
- Conducting a nationwide soil analysis to determine areas most suitable for rice farming to optimize production with the use of effective soil rehabilitation and fertilization.
- Strict enforcement of fisheries laws, particularly on illegal fishing
- Promotion of aquaculture along riverbanks and in backyards.
- Tax reforms aimed at reducing personal and corporate taxes.
- Speeding up Internet in the country and provision of free wifi access in selected public areas.
- Accelerating infrastructure spending by improving national roads and bridges and implementing the Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network and other road network master plans.
President Duterte also underscored the need to enforce the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law so that couples will have freedom of choice on number and spacing of children they can adequate care and provide for, eventually making them productive members of the labor force.
Meanwhile, he promised clean governance. “This government will be clean, 101 per cent clean.”
The President also announced a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP, NPA and NDF.
Other prominent features of the SONA: measures to ease the traffic situation in Metro Manila, relaxing the bank secrecy laws, and a call for a federal system of government.
(For the full transcript of the SONA, click here.)