Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Business groups ready to work with Aquino administration

Jessica Anne D. Hermosa

BUSINESS GROUPS have begun to rally around presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" C. Aquino III and other frontrunners in the partial count, expressing yesterday their eagerness to work with the incoming administration.

Implementation of much needed economic reforms will now be largely dependent on the quality of the Cabinet appointees and whether the new leaders in Malacañang and Congress can work together, industry group leaders said in telephone interviews.

"The business community welcomes who the people have chosen. We will work with whomever the people chose. We have to rally behind [Mr. Aquino]," Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Francis C. Chua said.

Mr. Aquino’s wide margin is boosting market sentiment as "takes a lot of uncertainty away", Makati Business Club Executive Director Alberto A. Lim said.

While Mr. Aquino has been painted as inexperienced by his critics, business leaders brushed this off and are instead watching out for his appointments.

"We are waiting to see who is on his team. That will set the tone for his government," American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Executive Director Robert M. Sears said, a sentiment echoed by the other business leaders.

Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, for his part said a strong mandate could prove to be more valuable than experience for Mr. Aquino.
The new administration will anyway be inheriting a relatively healthier economy at least for its first year, Mr. Ortiz-Luis said.

Mr. Chua concurred, saying: "We should not have too much [of a] problem as far as the economy is concerned. The new adminstration will just have to sustain the momentum."

Business groups were more concerned about how the executive and legislative branches would interact.

"It is mixed right now. There is no clear showing that [Mr. Aquino] will have control over Congress. It will be a problem that will have to be faced by the new president, how to get cooperation," Mr. Ortiz-Luis said.

"What’s important is they work as a team," Employers Confederation of the Philippines President Edgardo G. Lacson said.

Reforms long-requested by the business community will have to be championed by "a strong executive" in the meantime, Mr. Lim said.

The wish list includes the lowering of power costs, continued support for the Arroyo administration’s infrastructure program, and strong initiatives to balance the budget -- at least according to PCCI’s draft agenda for the president’s first 100 days in office shared by Mr. Chua.

Several groups noted that they were generally satisfied with the candidates poised to take Congress seats.

"We have people with experience there," Mr. Sears said.

The new batch of congressmen is looking to be "fine," said Mr. Schumacher.

Mr. Chua echoed this: "We should not have any problem working with the new leaders."

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