By Czeriza Valencia, October 12, 2020; The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines — The government is committed to re-open more sections of the economy in line with efforts to return to a growth trajectory, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
In a statement over the weekend, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the government would also ensure the greater availability of public transportation to enable more workers to return to their jobs.
“The government will continue its efforts to gradually open the economy and ensure the availability of more and safer public transportation, in tandem with strict observance of health protocols. We also need to facilitate trade and improve our export competitiveness,” he said.
Other efforts that will be actively pursued include the streamlining of regulations and effecting digital transformation in the provision of services by the government.
“Programs focused on streamlining, reviewing of regulations, and using technological innovations, including digitalization would also be vital in keeping the economy on track,” said Chua.
He said that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) recently rolled out its web-based Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo (E-TRACC) system, which tracks inland movement of containerized cargoes during transit.
The BOC also initiated measures under the customs modernization program, including the automation of frontline transaction with the rollout of the Trade Engine – a system designed to improve accuracy of recording and valuation of shipments.
NEDA issued the statement in response to Friday’s dismal external trade data.
External trade contracted at a faster pace in August as exports and imports registered double-digit declines.
Chua also said efforts to facilitate trade needs to be complemented with continued efforts to the country’s investment regime.
The country’s external trade in goods reached $12.33 billion in August, lower than the $13.22 billion in July and $15.61 billion in August 2019. Year-on-year, total trade declined at a faster pace of 21 percent in August compared to the 18.1 percent annual decline in July.
Chua said NEDA would continue to pursue the enactment of legislation that would provide a competitive and productive environment for businesses through amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Public Service Act.
“For the Philippines to be seen as a suitable destination for foreign direct investment, it is crucial for us to implement structural reforms that will make the country an attractive investment destination,” he said.