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Infrastructure transparency vowed

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assured European businessmen that transparency will prevail as the Duterte administration fast-tracks its flagship infrastructure projects meant to link communities, enhance productivity and create new jobs, especially in the countryside.

During a recent meeting with key officials of top European multinational companies belonging to the Europe-ASEAN Business Alliance, Dominguez said the Philippines is open for business, particularly in the area of infrastructure development, but he has yet to see companies from Europe participating in the bidding for these type of projects.

Dominguez told the EABA that the government has been “very transparent” in its transactions, and continues to pursue reforms in the country’s tax system following the enactment this year of the first package of the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, which lowered personal income tax rates while raising additional revenues to help support the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program and other priority projects.

The EABA members, in turn, informed Dominguez and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez during the meeting that they are interested in contributing to the economic reform agenda of the Duterte administration, by setting up businesses, which they said are “an important contributor to economic prosperity.”

Both Dominguez and Lopez emphasized that the ultimate goal of tax reform is to attract investments and create more jobs.

“We are in the midst of tax reform, we aim to restructure the tax system for it to be fair and provide more level playing field for business,” said Lopez.

Dominguez pointed out that President Duterte’s policies on attracting investments, on top of pursuing a massive infrastructure program and pushing tax reform, are to provide a conducive climate for business by maintaining peace and order, and curbing corruption in the bureaucracy.

Among those present at the meeting were officials from Swiss Re, a wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance, and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer; Van Oord, a contractor for dredging, marine engineering, offshore and energy products; East West Seed, which is involved in plant breeding; Ofo, which is the world’s first and largest dock-free bicycle sharing platform; Zuellig Pharma; ABB; and Rabobank Singapore & Representative Markets.

Officials from Alaska Milk Corp.; Vriens & Partners, a corporate advisory firm specializing in government affairs; and Roche Philippines, which is engaged in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, were also at the meeting.