To achieve the goals of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2025, ASEAN member-states should strive to achieve an environment where good governance prevails so that micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can thrive. This was emphasized by Sri Datuk Dr. Rebecca Sta. Maria during a public symposium on ASEAN Economic Integration and Nation Building held recently at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas.
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The event, which aimed at highlighting the opportunities and challenges in building the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), was organized by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and Jakarta-based Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) in support of the 50th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
According to Sta. Maria, a senior policy fellow at ERIA, part of good governance in the ASEAN context is making sure that governments have a strong relationship with the business community and this includes conducting regular consultations. “Programs involving micro, small, and medium enterprises, regular consultation with the business community—these provide voice to different sectors of society in the ASEAN,” she explained.
The Philippines has made some progress in decentralizing powers to local government units, but the government needs to do more.
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This was what international experts agreed during the third Annual Public Policy Conference (APPC) organized by the state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies held recently at the Marco Polo Hotel as part of the observance of the Development Policy Research Month.
“The Philippines is easily one of the most decentralized countries already within Southeast Asia, far more decentralized than federal Malaysia,” Australian National University Professor Paul Hutchcroft said.
He, however, added that there is much more to be done and consider if the country decides to shift to a federal form of government—a proposal that has gained traction since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016 in a bid to solve the weak regional development and inefficient public service delivery in the country.
For one, stakeholders must remember that there is no one-size-fits-all kind of federalism, or major political reform for that matter, adding that the type of federalism to be adopted depends on the needs of the people and the preexisting political conditions in the country.