Businessmen to Aquino: eliminate corruption in 1st 100 days

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 10 2010 09:06 PM | Updated as of Jun 11 2010 06:25 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Businessmen are challenging newly-minted President Benigno Aquino III to keep his campaign vow to weed out corruption in his first 100 days in office.

The 15th president of the Philippines ran on a platform of good governance, and promised among others, to raise the government's revenue by implementing a sustained program to prosecute big-time tax cheaters, including corrupt officials of the country's main collection agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.

The influential Makati Business Club on Thursday said that Aquino should show concrete examples of this in the first 100 days of his administration.

"The expectations are very high. If he just says it's business as usual, people will say - what happened to your promise,?" said Albert Lim, executive director of the Makati Business Club.

Donald Dee, vice chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the anti-corruption charges should start at the Bureau of Customs.

"Smuggling in the Bureau of Customs is critical, it will show he is serious in the fight."

Various business groups also urged Aquino not to raise the value added tax, which they said, will hit the working class the most.

The PCCI had previously submitted an economic blueprint for Aquino, which proposed among others, how to achieve a balanced budget, solve the power shortage and encourage more investors to set up shop in the country.

The PCCI also said they hoped that Aquino will not give in to pressure to further hike the minimum wage.

"I hope the president will make clear that increases in wages is something that is not in the right direction," said Dee.

Meanwhile, Lim, who is reportedly being eyed to head the Department of Budget and Management, said that the international airport and seaport should be moved out of Manila and transferred to nearby provinces.

At the same time, Lim said Aquino should not close the possibility of imposing new taxes.

The proposal to increase the VAT from 12% to 15% however, will burden the majority of the poor, said Leonor Briones, former National Treasurer and professor at the University of the Philippines National College of Administration and Governance.

Briones challenged Aquino to go after the biggest tax evaders.