To hit the ground running, the incoming administration of governor-elect Arthur Yap has to crash head on the prevailing issues on slow internet, and high prices of fish and fuel in Bohol.
Students and contractors of home-based outsourced jobs welcome the incoming Yap’s administration with ray of hope that, finally, internet connection in Bohol is going to improve, taking note on the House deputy speaker’s push for a policy that would welcome a third player in the telecommunications industry.
In addition, Yap has also explored technical solutions to effectively retransmit signal with the use of repeaters.
Yap shares the vision of outgoing governor Edgar Chatto to establish an ICT hub in Bohol to attract stable BPO companies.
Sources had it that big BPO companies tend to avoid an area with political issues.
For students and contractors of home-based outsourced jobs, who aired their concerns, the Yap’s earlier pronouncement during the candidates forum before the elections was a big factor in their expectations as they noted Yap’s inclination to address the problem on slow internet connections in many parts of Bohol.
They also learned that Yap authored a legislative measure at the House of Representatives to improve connectivity.
One of the bills that Yap filed at the House of Representatives is the amendment of the Public Service Act, particularly on the definition of public utilities so that a third Telco player can come in and will encourage the existing dominating Telcos to improve their services because of competition.
Yap expressed in his bill’s explanatory note that while Philippines is number one country in the world in terms of sending text messages and the internet penetration is so high, the internet connection is so bad.
Yap also said that he disagrees to the common comments that the poor does not deserve a smartphone because even the children in remote areas know Youtube.
Yap also cited a painful incident in Jagna where a person who was trying to find a signal so she could contact her mother was hit by a motorcycle driven by a drunk driver who just came from a fiesta.
As an economist and a lawyer, Yap, has started identifying the points in the chain from the sources to the consumers of the fish industry, as well as the oil industry to be able to come up with solutions to the high prices of fish and fuel.
Yap had also suggested that Bohol should have more oil depots to store enough supply of gasoline, diesel, and other oil products.
The basic principle is to increase the supply to meet the demand, and also to trigger competition among the suppliers.
For the fish industry, Yap has worked on capacitating the fishermen and finding a way to bail them out from debts.
The solution has to be a package of approaches from different points from the source to the market or further to the delivery of goods to the consumers through sectoral approach.
It has to meet another means from a different point view of taming inflation.
A freeway to pump supply of fish and meat in the markets through zero tariff on their importation could be a way to tame inflation.
While still chair of the House Committee on Economic Affairs, Yap had noted on the figures shared by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, who was then the vice chair of the House Committee on Economic Affairs.
In Salceda’s notes, it shows that fish sector contributes 0.6 percent to the inflation rate where the Year on Year (YOY) inflation is 11.2 percent, and Month-over-month (MOM) inflation is 0.5 percent
Meat contributes 0.4 percent to the inflation rate where the YOY is 4.7 percent and the MOM inflation is 0.5 percent.
Vegetables contributes 0.2 percent to the inflation rate where the YOY is 8.6 percent and the MOM is 3.4 percent.
Corn sector has not contributed to the inflation rate and it serves 14.1 percent input to meat.
Feed wheat, also not contributing to the inflation, is the cheaper alternative..
Considering these, there was a proposal for zero tariff for fish, meat, corn, feed wheat, and vegetables imports; and importation for rice.
From the sensitivity that the Department of Finance (DoF) has done, at least it could bring down the inflation to below 5 percent, because 0.6 percent, 0.5 percent, 0.3 percent, 0.2 percent in contribution to the inflation cannot just be ignored, according to Yap, referring to the percentage of contribution of the fish, meat, corn, and vegetables sectors to inflation.
For vegetables, Yap proposed in his earlier pronouncement that the government would just have “to do something like food lanes like what had already been done before”.
“You immediately identify the areas of production and you make sure that all the lanes coming in to the major population centers are open. So that can be done to bring in our vegetables,” Yap said.
As to the concern on fuel, Yap explained that the Philippines has to bear with the consequence of being an archipelago.
“Fuel will cross through all these sectors. Ang problema sa Pilipinas, as what I always say, is we are an archipelago. Hindi tayo Thailand, hindi tayo Vietnam, hindi tayo China, hindi tayo US. We’re not a continental landmass where we can connect everything. Ang problema sa atin,we have to connect from the mountains to our urban population and then we have to cross the seas,” Yap explained.
He said this was the reason why former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, during her watch, had to build the nautical highways.
“So yon ang kritikal don. Right now, we just have to connect all of those. But for fuel, you can think of giving certain vouchers and subsidies to some groups,” according to Yap.
As to the amount of revenues that the government would lose if zero tariff on fish and meat is implemented, Yap pointed out that “we should not think that way. What the government loses, the people gain. What is important right now is to give that breathing spell”.
The effect of the importation of corn and feed wheat would take time to be felt, though, considering that it would also take time to grow the chickens and hogs.
“Matagal pa yan. Kahit na magpa-import ka ng corn ngayon to translate it into feeds, kahit na magpasok ka ng feed wheat to translate into feeds, you will still need 45 days for chicken to grow, you need how many days for your hogs to grow,” Yap explained.
He added that the government also has to consider certain levels of imports for chicken and meat products, especially that it’s going to be Christmas season soon.
“Mag-uumpisa na yan. Dapat ang arrivals n’yan, pumapasok na yan ng mga October to November. Ta’s nilalagay na yan sa mga refrigeration chillers for distribution during Christmas season. That has to begin right now,” according to Yap.
Yap, however, pointed out that importation of fish and meat products should not be done indiscriminately to the extent of hurting the local producers.
“This cannot be done indiscriminately. Hindi pwedeng ano ha, ang decision natin is massive importation para sa lahat. We have local hog producers. We have local chicken producers, vegetables producers. We have fish dealers, traders, people who feed us well. These are taxpayers as well. So, We have to protect them, because they give jobs. ‘Yong rice, talagang malaking deficityan. So with rice, I think we can just have to import right away.
He also pointed to the deficit in fish supply that is big enough to warrant importation.
“Fish, I think the deficit is also large and big. So Ok, you can do that. And, you can identify the few big producers there, and the businessmen there. The businesses that could be affected, you can just discuss with them,” according to Yap.
He proposed setting a minimum and maximum pricing wherein when the prices in breach is achieved, importation proceeds; and when not, “we stay”.
He also urged the businessmen to help by shunning away from hoarding.