Agriculture tops business concerns


    Agriculture and 13 other issues are the focus of the resolutions that members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) will put forward at the forthcoming annual Philippine Business Conference.

    Alegria Limjoco, PCCI president, in an interview on Friday, said one of the key highlights of the PBC on October 16 and 17 is the signing of a memorandum of agreement of the group with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for a project called ASPIRE, or agribusiness support for promotion and investment in regional exposition.

    Limjoco said the agreement highlights the need to improve food security while increasing farmers’ incomes.

    She added the agreement will be signed by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez and DA Secretary William Dar in ceremonies to be witnessed by President Duterte.

    Limjoco said ASPIRE highlights the need to reform the agriculture sector especially at this time when the country’s major crop, rice is under the spotlight.

    Limjoco said while the availability of imports has helped stabilize the price of rice that contributed to low inflation, this should be balanced with assisting farmers in terms of improved efficiency and higher productivity.

    “The price of rice which was so high last year has gone down to below 1 percent. We believe (rice tarrification) has worked initially but we have to help our farmers,” she said.
    One way is by giving farmers hybrid seeds, she added.

    At the PBC, the PCCI will endorse to the concerned government agencies to further advocate for lower import cost of rice.

    Limjoco said PCCI has yet to come up with a position on moves to slap higher tariff on imported rice as afeguard to protect local farmers.

    “As PCCI we have always advocated the big brother concept where our members are encouraged to source from local farmers, “ she said.

    The PCCI will also urge the DA to implement fully the farm-to-market roads.

    The group will also seek to rationalize the importation of sugar on the basis of a
    careful analysis of projected production versus domestic demand, and in consultation
    with industry stakeholders.

    “We will urge the SRA (Sugar Regulatory Authority) to take the leadership role in ensuring the development of the sugarcane industry and optimizing the utilization of the annual P2 billion provided for the purpose under the Sugar Industry Development Act.

    Apart from agriculture, PCCI will issue resolutions on ease of doing business.

    energy and power; environment, climate change and disaster management; labor and employment

    The resolutions, culled from consultations from PCCI regional chambers, are an annual set of priorities the PCCI submit to the government for consideration.

    According to Limjoco, Mindanao PCCI chamber has identified infrastructure particularlyairport as a top concern. In the Visayas, food producers are complaining about the slow approval of their registration with the Food and Drug Authority.

    Limjoco said this issue falls on another issue of the PBC resolutions, ease of doing business.

    Other issues to be raised in the resolutions are on energy and power; environment, climate change and disaster management; labor employment; national issues; small and medium enterprise development; taxation; trade facilitation; transportation and logistics; tourism; urban development and; water.