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‘Working balance’ between gov’t, private sector sought

A top executive of a huge conglomerate has urged the government and private sector to balance their moves in the middle of the pandemic to ensure the recovery of businesses.

“There has to be a working balance between both government and the private sector,” said Katrina C. Ponce Enrile, chief executive officer of the JAKA Group of Companies.

Ponce Enrile, daughter of former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, said that among other things, there must be low cost financing to micro, small and medium enterprises and that this must be made accessible.

“These are challenging times. We all need to be responsible citizens of the country, both the government and the private sector need to work together and remove roadblocks that make it difficult for new businesses to come in,: she said.

She said both the government and the private sector must think past and act fast in creating a more conducive business landscape with favorable incentives for both local and foreign investors as all nations now are competing for investors to come in in this global setting.”

On the wood industry, with the support of the government, the country can reduce its “independence on imported wood products and jumpstart the local economy,” she said, adding that at present, “Region 13 can only supply 35% of the domestic market.“

“Hopefully, with increased harvest, can be an exporter of wood products,” she added, pointing out that to do this, the government should make doing business easier. “There are too many regulatory requirements that you have to comply with, whether you are starting a business or you are already a going concern,” Ponce Enrile added.

In relation to its operations in Mindanao, Ponce Enrile projected that it would take the company about 1,000 employees and contractors about two years to financially recover from the impact of the virus.

She explained that the company is into integrated sustainable forest management, among them making denuded forests into productive ones through tree farming to ensure wood supply of its match plants and other wood processing plants in the country.

We clear the area, preserve the existing indigenous trees, plant fast growing species, maintain the plantation, harvest and transport the logs to the wood processing mills as raw materials to make into safety matches, plywood, lumber and other construction materials, and then repeat the cycle, all the while, protecting the forest from poaching and other illegal activities,” she added, pointing out that it would take between 10 to 15 years for forests to become economically viable.
Based on its website, JAKA Investments Corp., a subsidiary, is the top producer of the brands of matches that have become household names in the country and even in the Southeast Asian nations.

Another subsidiary, the Casilayan Softwood Development Corp., (CSDC) is into integrated tree farming whose production becomes the raw materials for the companies that produce the matches.

Under its system, the CSDC) acquires from the government integrated forest management agreements and rehabilitates these tree farms to make them productive.

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