MANILA - Former UP President Alfredo Pascual will have a lot on his plate as the next secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
With consumers already reeling from the steep hikes in the prices of basic goods, and manufacturers begging for even more price increases as input costs continue to spike, the next head of the DTI will have his work cut out for him.
Besides balancing the interests of consumers and manufacturers, he will also need to revitalize businesses.
He will need to pay close attention to the medium, small and microenterprises (MSMEs) hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the hard lockdowns of the last 2 years.
Pascual will also need to promote investments in the country at a time of global uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine, spiraling inflation, and high interest rates.
The incoming DTI chief was president of the University of the Philippines (UP) from 2011 to 2017. He used to teach finance and management at the state university, and had also taught at the Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Institute of Management.
Prior to his stint as head of UP, Pascual also worked at the Asian Development Bank for 19 years in various positions, including being the multilateral lender’s Advisor for Public-Private Partnership.
Pascual also has experience in business as a lead independent director of SM Investments Corporation, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, with interests in retail, real estate, banking, logistics, mining and others.
He is also an independent director of Megawide Construction Corp, which operates the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and recently bid for the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Pascual is also president of the Management Association of the Philippines, and a member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines.
In one of his first interviews after being named as next DTI chief, Pascual said he would focus on promoting digitalization as a means to revitalize MSMEs.
"One of my priorities is to promote the digital transformation of DTI and all our functionaries as well as the MSMEs and other enterprises in the country," Pascual said in an interview with ANC.
He said he would prioritize consumer protection.
"Sisiguraduhin natin na ang presyo ay resulta ng interplay ng supply and demand na hindi nahahaluan ng manipulasyon," he said in an interview with TeleRadyo.
(We will ensure that prices result from the interplay of supply and demand, and not influenced by manipulation.)
But Pascual also warned that it may not be possible to bring down prices in the first 100 days of the Marcos administration.
For consumers, his advice is “to be resourceful.”
Besides high prices, Pascual will also need to deal with the possibility of a food crisis.
But all is not gloom and doom for incoming trade chief. While businesses are concerned over high inflation, rising interest rates and global uncertainty, the recently approved amendments to the country's investment laws have been widely hailed by many business chambers.
Amendments to the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investment Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act are expected to attract more foreign investments for the Philippines.