By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat, May 12, 2022; Manila Bulletin

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has prepared a 10-point recommendation for the incoming administration, foremost of which is continuity of economic reforms and no reversal of policy measures, to ensure sustained economic recovery.

DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said he already submitted his agency’s recommendations to the Economic Cabinet Cluster two months ago for consolidation as part of the cluster’s overall recommendation. Lopez said he will also discuss his proposal with his successor.

Aside from continuity of economic reforms, the DTI recommendations include ensure full economic recovery, policies more budget for modern production systems, innovation upgrading, e-commerce, e-vehicle ecosystem, ease of doing business, consumer protection, and an intelligence fund to fight against economic saboteurs.

To ensure full economic recovery, Lopez said the next administration must ensure safe reopening with minimum public health standards and implementation of booster shots.

The DTI also urged that all areas in the country must be placed under Alert Level 1 and reopening of face to face classes to support full reopening of the economy.

In addition, the DTI would like the next leaders to come up with policies on Strategic Investment Priority Plan and to set up with more budget for modern and advanced production systems, and support to build-up local production capacities to reduce imports in all agricultural industry services, especially machineries and equipment to help MSMEs to level up.

Complementing these policies is the strengthening of the buy local policy on specific government procurement.

In addition, the DTI would like the incoming administration to pursue innovation upgrading programs, including the Center for AI Research.

To support businesses, the DTI has pushed for the strengthening of e-commerce in the country, through digitalization and use of fintech.

The DTI would also like to see the next leaders promote the development of the electric vehicle ecosystem and the creative industries.

There should be further easing of doing business, and streamlining and automation of all government transactions.

To protect consumers, the DTI recommended the passage of the Internet Transactions Act and provide budget for standards testing equipment.

Lastly, the DTI has proposed that government put up an intelligence fund to strengthen campaign against smugglers/ profiteers/ hoarders/ ecommerce scammers.

Meantime, Lopez said that the 8.3 percent GDP growth in the first quarter this year showed the domestic economy has already “overcome the country’s greatest economic challenge.”

“Our strong 8.3 percent year-on-year growth in Q1 2022 has put us above the pre-pandemic level GDP in both nominal and real terms. Expansions were broad-based across all sectors, led particularly by the industry sector,” he said.

Lopez noted that the Q1 2022 growth rate exceeded most targets and expectations, with the median analyst growth rate projection was only 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent.

“This also means that we are the fastest growing economy in the East-Asia region for the period,” he noted.