MANILA, Philippines - As President Benigno Aquino delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) this afternoon, a business leader said the President should do more to address the high cost of doing business in the country.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Miguel Varela said Aquino has done well in his first two years, restoring confidence in the government and the economy, as well as improving the Philippines' image as an investment destination.
"His policy for strong forceful advocacy of good governance that is transpaent, accountable and people-oriented is really a milestone. It has created a lot of inspiration from local and foreign investors because they see they have better opportunities, a level playing field that is assured and there are efforts by government and various agencies to improve the bureaucracy," he told ANC.
In his SONA today, Aquino is expected to highlight gains of the Philippine economy under his term. The economy grew by 6.4% in the first quarter, the second highest in Asia, while the stock exchange is one of the 10 best performing markets in the world.
"If our growth continues and sustained, we will be able to attract more investors," Varela said.
However, the PCCI chief said the Philippines still lags behind Asian neighbors when it comes to foreign direct investments (FDIs). Varela said Aquino should come up with clear policy directions that will help the Philippines attract more FDIs.
"We want to hear some policy directions that will define the contry's viability for FDIs, as well as the productivity and competitiveness of local industries," he said.
In particular, Varela said the President should do more to address the high cost of doing business in the country.
"The cost of doing business is very high. Power rates are the main culprit, the cost of transport and logistics is also very high. We also have inefficient ports, which can't accommodate airplanes and ships, and lack communications equipment... The government must work in tandem with the private sector to address these problems like high cost of power, transport," he said.