What we wish for | Inquirer Opinion

Today, we choose our new leader, I sure hope we choose wisely. Back in March, I wrote about the character of the leader we would wish for (“A curriculum vitae,” 03/31/22). Today, let me focus on a few of the things, we, in the business community, would expect of that leader.

It is essential that they continue to maintain and implement the commendable reforms this and previous administrations have achieved in opening up our economy and making the environment more workable for businesses to thrive. The next president must build on those reforms. The very worst thing he/she could do is to reverse any of the shifts that have brought us closer to an open, fairer, and more competitive environment. The absolute worst would be to bring anything backunder government control.

There are still a few that could much improve business conditions sitting in Congress. The business sector has detailed them numerous times, so I won’t again here. If Congress doesn’t pass them in its last session, which I sincerely hope they do, then our next leader should use his/her influence to pass those outstanding bills rapidly (a word Congress may wish to look up) to finalize President Duterte’s reform package.

Mind you, too often I find that the reforms that have been done aren’t enacted in the way promised. I’ll never forget recommending to President Duterte in his early days the need for a massive reform of the mind of the bureaucracy and its stultifying effect on the performance promised by reform that a convoluted bureaucracy doesn’t follow. He fully agreed with me — change the bureaucratic mindset — but was unable to achieve that change. Maybe our new president can.

Digitalization is supposed to cure much of it—get the people out of the way. But when digitalization does occur, it isn’t always accompanied by a drastic simplification and speeding of the processes involved. Just a transfer from paper to screen. The Anti-Red Tape Authority has done a laudable job in this regard by streamlining many activities of business registration. Its role must be continued and strengthened with disciplinary powers. And, I would suggest, widened to cover all aspects of dealing with the government. Paper and the mindset that goes with it must disappear completely. The trees will love us. The air environment will too.

We need a general policy of the least involvement of government in human activities. For us in business that means don’t regulate or control unless there is a genuine need that has been discussed and agreed to with business and the consuming public first. Introduce a policy of talk, talk, talk. Always talk to all those that will be affected before making any change.

I have written about the frightening condition of the education of our kids (“Our future at risk,” 4/25/22). Fixing this must be at the top of the new president’s to-do list, with research into what are the underlying causes, so the correct solutions can be applied. Business and society need an educated citizen.

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