Attrition policy on weak industries assailed

Published by rudy Date posted on July 23, 2010

FACED with limited resources, the government will be doing a “triage” in determining which industries will get the support to survive, and those that will be allowed to die an “orderly” death.

And if he will be made to rank the top priority industries for government support, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo identified tourism as the top, followed by information technology-business-process outsourcing (IT-BPO), electronics, mining and housing.

These, according to the new DTI chief, are the most competitive industries in the  country.

“Tourism is No. 1 on my list, because I travel a lot and the Philippines is a great tourism area, much better than Thailand. We are so rich in tourism resources. It is also the only industry that can provide millions of jobs from the unskilled to the executives,” he said.

And for those that are no longer competitive, particularly in the manufacturing sector, Domingo said the government would only help in managing their decline so they will fade away in an “orderly” manner.

Domingo told members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) on Wednesday that he would direct the Board of Investments (BOI) to determine which industries are headed for demise, which remain competitive and which are in the middle.

The BOI, he said, will have to find out how to break the industries into these three groups.

“We probably have to do a triage. There are some who will not remain competitive. We will have to manage their decline. For industries that can compete, we would like to support them,” he said.

Agriculture, although not that competitive, should also get government support for the purpose of food security, Domingo said.

Jesus Arranza, chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), said it is not right for Domingo to issue a sweeping statement that those who could not compete should just be allowed to fade away.

Arranza said the new government appears to be employing the law of the jungle, or survival of the fittest and elimination of the unfit.

“I recall before that [former] Trade secretary Jose Concepcion said the coconut industry had no future, that it was already a sunset industry. But as you can see now, the coconut industry resuscitated strongly. Now we have the biodiesel, oleo-chemicals and one of the strongest net dollar earners in the country,” he said.

Instead of letting the industries deemed noncompetitive right now to just die, Arranza said the government should try to solve the issues and problems that make them uncompetitive, such as high costs of power, transport and of doing business in the country.

“This is like a broken record already. We have been talking a lot about this, but nothing concrete is coming out from the side of the government. As for the local industries, we have been trying our best to survive in an atmosphere where smugglers and importers are slowly eating up the market because of the authorities’ neglect,” he said. –Max V. de Leon / Reporter, Businessmirror

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