Archive for December, 2010

AGAP pushes for reforms in universal health coverage

Posted on December 1, 2010. Filed under: News |

In a press briefing conducted by the Fair Trade Alliance, AGAP shared the salient features of the proposed ‘Amendments to the Philhealth Law’ and identified the same measure as one of Fair Trade’s four (4) priority legislation.

Some media coverage below:

Trade advocacy group presses Congress for competition support

Published in Business World online edition
On November 26, 2010

Advocacy group Fair Trade Alliance urged Congress on Friday to act on four priority measures said to help local industry and labor cope with tariff cuts and increased competition.

Legislators will have to pass bills to create a trade representative office and provide stricter anti-smuggling policy, as well as draft an anti-trust law and improved guidelines for subsidized health care, the group said.

“Lower tariffs and smuggled goods are hitting local industry,” Fair Trade Alliance Executive Director Mars V. Mendoza said at a press briefing.

“We need to address these issues immediately to help local producers and labor.”

The establishment of a Philippine Trade Representative Office, for instance, is expected to boost the country’s negotiating capabilities by improving government coordination on multi-sectoral issues, Fair Trade staffer Ember R. Cruz said.

The proposed agency will replace the current practice wherein the Trade department handles issues on industrial merchandise, the Agriculture department handles crops and the National Economic and Development Authority, negotiates for services, Ms. Cruz said.

Anti-smuggling policies should likewise be improved by requiring vessel operators to send in shipment data prior to arrival and authorizing agencies to inspect warehouses and impose stiffer penalties, another staffer, Allan Duane A. Mendoza saiad.

A competition policy must likewise be implemented to make it easier for small enterprises to enter industries dominated by big players and also to prevent monopolies from abusing consumers, the group added.

A commission will have to be created to prevent a firm’s attempts to exclude competitors from the market, the group said.

The group also called for improving the public’s access to health care, proposing that a bill be drafted to lay down mechanisms to enroll workers in the informal sector and also to prod the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to release more of its collections.

All four concerns have been discussed with some lawmakers, with the competition policy being the only one not yet at committee level in the House of Representatives, Fair Trade said. — J. A. D. Hermosa

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FairTrade pushes four pet bills

Published in Manila Bulletin
On November 28, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Multisectoral roup FairTrade Alliance (FairTrade) has pushed for the passage of four priority bills in this Congress which it finds would significantly ensure the welfare of Filipino consumers and protect micro small and medium enterprises.

The four pet bills are Anti-Smuggling, Competition Policy, Philippine Trade Representative Office and Universalizing healthcare.

“We chose these bills because we need these bills,” said Mars Mendoza, FairTrade executive director.

All these bills, however, are refiled bills from previous congresses. FairTrade is also urging Malacañang to certify these bills as urgent and be included in its priority legislative agenda.

According to Mendoza, these bills should have easy passage in Congress because they have all passed the committee level in the last Congress.

The PTRO bill is now in the committee level in Senate and Lower House while the Competition Policy bill is with the technical working group ready for the drafting of a substitute bill.

The anti-smuggling bill is also with the committee on ways and means while the universal healthcare bill is with the health committee of the Lower House.

“We hope these bills to be part of the Medium-Term Development Plan (MTDP) that President Aquino is expected to the unveil on December 10,” Mendoza said.

Aside from these bills, FairTrade is also supporting other bills as the National Farm Bill, Magna Carta for the informal sector, amendments to the Labor Code, creation of the National Film Commission, and the Reproductive Health bill.

On the PTRO bill, FairTrade cited the need to have a single body that would craft a coherent and cohesive trade and investments negotiating strategy in light of the proliferation of regional trade agreements.

“There must be greater accountability of our trade negotiators with regard to trade and investment agreements because these deals affect the lives of so many people,” said Ember Cruz, FairTrade campaign officer for PTRO.

On competition policy, FairTrade senior researcher Errol Ramos said that it should not be a stand alone policy but should be link to industrial and national development policy to make it more meaningful. (BCM)

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