PCCI bats for long-term agricultural policy for food sufficiency

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) hopes that President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. will consider setting up a long-term institutionalized agricultural policy with a master plan that aims to implement self-sufficiency in food, among others.

In news a statement issued on Thursday, PCCI Agriculture Committee Chair Paul Cuyegkeng expressed hope that Marcos Jr. will consider coming up with a long-term institutionalized agricultural policy with an overall consistent master plan that aims to implement self-sufficiency in food; an agro-industrial base for processed agricultural products for both domestic and export markets; and export of fresh agricultural products with a competitive advantage.

In fact, the PCCI Agriculture Committee prepared a policy paper for the incoming administration, highlighting among others, the need to increase the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s budget and the appointment of competent and knowledgeable officials based on meritocracy and track record.

Cuyegkeng added that the incoming President’s decision to simultaneously assume the Agriculture department shows his decisiveness to fix the bureaucracy to improve its performance. Further, he noted that this move anticipates the impact of the global events such as the immediate food crisis brought by the war between Russia and Ukraine as well as Thailand and Vietnam’s restriction of their rice exports.

The business group’s agriculture committee chief emphasized that the decision of Marcos Jr. to take on the DA portfolio is a “bold move and one that shows strong leadership.”

Meanwhile, for his part, PCCI President George T. Barcelon, in a separate statement, assured the incoming President that he has the full support of the business community as he takes on the crucial role of leading the country for the next several years.

“The business community will lend its full support and cooperation to the new government. We definitely recognize the need for us to unite and rally behind President-elect Marcos Jr. in order to accelerate the country’s recovery and growth momentum,” said Barcelon, as he noted that Marcos Jr. will have to face several policy issues, citing the growing debt as the most critical, among others, which resulted from the two-year global pandemic which placed the whole country under stringent lockdowns.

On the key sectors to zero in, Barcelon stressed that the new government should focus on harnessing and developing key sectors that have a huge beneficial impact on the economy particularly in terms of employment, which include agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and infrastructure.

The PCCI chief also expressed optimism on the recent decision of Marcos Jr. to take the role of the Agriculture chief. “This is truly a confidence-building measure that under his leadership, agriculture will finally be given the long-overdue attention it needs as a sector that is crucial and foundational part of our country’s economic transformation,” added Barcelon.

At a news briefing on Thursday, incoming President Marcos Jr. will prioritize increasing the country’s food production when he takes over as concurrent head of the Agriculture department.

He pointed out that the rice exportation ban being imposed by Thailand and Vietnam, the Philippines’s main sources of imported rice, has left the country with no choice but to increase its local production of the staple grain.

The President-elect announced Monday that he would be assuming the portfolio of Secretary of Agriculture due to the severity of the problem that the country would face with the looming food crisis and the continued spike in food prices. -30-