Rep. Belmonte renews Charter-Change for the Philippines constitution

Belmonte renews Cha-cha push

Philippines - Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has reiterated his advocacy for Charter change (Cha-cha) to relax the Constitution's economic provisions to attract more foreign investments.

"While amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution may not come sooner, I earnestly believe that this should be given priority by the next Congress," Belmonte told a group of foreign and Filipino businessmen this week.

He said opening more areas of the economy to foreign investors would certainly bring in more investments and contribute to the country's economic development.

Belmonte and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had held initial meetings and agreed on the need for Cha-cha. However, the present Congress has run out of time to discuss the matter of amending the Constitution.

The Speaker's proposal is to introduce an amendment that would allow Congress to relax the Charter's economic provisions.

He told the business group that much still has to be done by the country's leaders to sustain its economic growth, create jobs and promote its overall competitiveness.

"This is no time to be complacent. Much work remains to be done," he said.

Belmonte said the challenges entail "keeping the fiscal house in order, and approving a national budget that is truly responsive to the needs and demands of the people."

"Indeed, we are on the right track toward our fiscal consolidation efforts as the national government managed to post a primary surplus, net of interest payments, amounting to 139.2 billion for the period of January to September 2012, while increasing disbursements by 14 percent for the same period," he said.

To boost trade, Belmonte stressed the need to make the country's products more competitive, find new markets, and expand existing ones.

"Small and medium enterprises have to be provided with more support – they are the engines of the national economy. Our economy also has to be more knowledge-based," he added.

In the area of human resource development, Belmonte said, "There is a need to invest more in our people, provide them with better health and education, and make them stakeholders in the country's future."

He noted that under the social services budget of 698 billion for 2013, 329.4 billion will go to education, culture and manpower development, while 169.3 billion is set aside for social security, welfare and employment.

"This only shows that our prudent spending over the past years has now allowed us to invest more on developing our human capital," Belmonte said.

On the crucial issue of peace and order, Belmonte said businessmen have to feel more secure living and doing business in the country.

"This can only happen in a regime where there is greater transparency and accountability. The signing of the framework agreement between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is therefore a welcome development," he said. (http://is.gd/t1qUDf)

philSTAR

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