Major business groups said Thursday they are ready to support a shift to a federal form of government if it will boost the economy.
The Philippine Business Groups said in a joint position paper they would support the Duterte administration’s plan if results of a thorough study would point to a positive impact on the economy.
The Philippine Business Groups is composed of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Foundation Inc. and Cebu Business Club.
The groups asked the Finance and Budget Departments and the National Economic Development Authority to conduct comprehensive studies on the budgetary and economic implications of having a federal system and to present their findings to the Consultative Committee, Congress, and the public.
They also asked the Consultative Committee and Congress to proactively seek feedback from the various sectors and the public, in light of the extremely low level of public awareness. Only 3 percent of those polled in a survey considered amending the Constitution as a key concern.
They also urged the national government to design and implement a program to expand the capabilities of local governments and local government officials to prepare them for added responsibilities whether or not there will be a shift to a federal system.
“It is imperative that such a move be preceded by and complemented with a comprehensive build-up of local government capabilities,” the groups said.
They also suggested the formation of committees to review the objectives of the shift to a federal system and determine which of these could be addressed immediately and substantially by amending the Local Government Code and other laws while deliberating on whether to change the Constitution.
They also called on the national and local governments to strengthen regional economies by developing economic strategies, while deliberating on whether to change the Constitution.
Among the issues raised by the groups were the resistance of political clans and dynasties to consolidate provinces into a federal state; the concerns of investors on the stability of the federal states to deliver the necessary services and infrastructure; the capability of federal regions for production and trading capacity to support their population with a degree of independence; and possibly huge incremental cost of creating additional bureaucracy.