Bongbong to streamline gov’t operations

President-elect Bongbong Marcos on Thursday, 26 May said his first order of business is to streamline government operations through digitalization.,Marcos stressed the need to improve digital infrastructure in the Philippines to make government processes “smooth-running”.,“It will be better for the Philippines for the simple reason that when we deal with other countries….everybody is digitized, we are somehow left behind. It will make quicker. Business operations and investments are digitized. Those are the immediate things that I think we can immediately enforce,” he said in a press briefing a day following his proclamation.,Marcos will be inaugurated as the 17th president of the Philippines on 30 June. He said he will call for a Cabinet meeting immediately a day after to “hit the ground running” and set the direction for the next six years.,“I’m using the time now and the 1st of July to plan, to talk to everybody and tell them that the plan is clear. Everybody must understand the things that need to be accomplished,” he stressed.,Among his priorities, he said, is to address unemployment and increasing prices of basic commodities as well as to provide “some relief to business communities”.,To help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) amid the pandemic, Marcos said he will look into removing some tax collections from the small business owners.,“The things we spoke about during the campaign, those are not only to campaign. We really need to do something about…we need to find help for our MSMEs. We really have to create once again a value chain for our agriculture,” he said.,To fulfill his campaign promise of setting the price of rice as low as P20 per kilo, he said the “value chain” should be fixed.,“I have talked to some traders and requested them to freeze the prices of the rice for several months. I think we will be able to do it. That is the first step,” he noted.,He also reiterated his concern over the aging population of agriculture workers. He said the agriculture sector must “employ new technologies” to entice the young to try farming.,Meanwhile, Marcos has serious reservations about the ratification of the mega trade deal Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying that the local agriculture sector must be “beefed up” first before the government enters into a trade agreement.,“We want to have sufficient food supply for the Philippines in case of any crisis. We should really learn our lesson from the pandemic,” he said.,“We should study what will be the effect on the farming community if we ratify it. Our farmers need protection. We should study how will it impact what our plans are to create a value chain of agriculture,” he pointed out.,Marcos likewise said suspending the collection of excise tax on petroleum products must be “studied thoroughly” to see if there would be a “commensurate return deferring the excise.”,Palace: Tax changes up to Marcos administration,The incoming Marcos administration will decide whether additional taxes will be imposed to generate more revenues for debt payments, according to Malacañang.,Acting presidential spokesperson Secretary Martin Andanar said Thursday that the finance department’s proposal to raise taxes or defer tax exemptions would be left to the next economic managers.,“We leave this matter, and other ways to mobilize resources, to the wisdom of the President-elect’s economic team,” Andanar said in a statement.,Finance officials said earlier this week that they recommended a “doable” set of measures to pay the country’s debts, including raising revenues, improving tax administration, and cutting unnecessary spending with fiscal reforms.,The outgoing Duterte administration incurred nearly P13 billion worth of debt to boost the Philippines’ Covid-19 war chest.,The nominated members of Marcos Jr.s’ economic team have yet to publicly comment on the proposal of the finance department.