MAP seeks more inclusivity to bridge gaps, says group’s new head

MAP seeks more inclusivity to bridge gaps, says group’s new head
Benedicta Du-Baladad

Narrowing the generational divide and creating an environment of real inclusivity are the key goals of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), says its new president in her inaugural speech.

Founding partner of Philippines law firm Du-Baladad and Associates, Benedicta Du-Baladad, was elected president of MAP, one of the country’s most influential business groups, in January 2023.

“We have a relatively young board that can potentially cement what the MAP has been desiring to do for years: to create and institutionalise an environment that would bridge and connect the wisdom and wealth of experience of the seasoned CEOs, with the new thinking, new ideas, innovations in doing business and a new paradigm of the next generation of CEOs,” said Du Baladad in her speech.

“The perspectives between the present and the next generation may differ, but I believe that this is not because we have different challenges, but because we have differing approaches.”

The 63-year-old management organisation has more than 750 members representing a cross-section of CEOs, chief operating officers, and other top management practitioners from the largest local and multinational companies operating in the country, as well as some government officials.

Her first act, therefore, was to assign next-generation members to be co-vice chairs in most committees to give them the opportunity to lead, participate and be immersed in the organisation. As of today, 23 next-generation members have risen to the challenge.

“That translates to 27% or almost one-third of the total leadership posts in committees represented by those whom we hope will eventually take over the reins in the future,” said Du-Baladad.

“We also keep making strides in achieving gender balance. For this year, we are gratified to note that we are at 44% female to 56% male gender mix of leaders in our various committees.

“Today’s MAP is a diverse group in age, gender and professional background,” Du-Baladad added. “It is the very first time in the history of MAP that four of the nine members of the MAP board are women. This alone sets a tone.”

For Du-Baladad, building internal strength also means that the association can provide support through timely information to members that can increase their confidence level in their business planning. Therefore, the MAP will establish a data map where relevant statistics, facts, figures, policy papers and other research materials are banked and can readily be used to provide industry statistics and more importantly, enable the organisation to back its policy positions.

“I believe that business intuition is a spark that can be ignited when backed by solid indicators,” said Du-Baladad. “The MAP can better serve members when we can help manage business risks through informed data points readily available at their fingertips.”

Having identified the key directions for the year, the MAP board will work with 30 committees grouped into six clusters and will be responsible for the plans and actions to best deliver results. The programmes will be harmonised, tracked, and calibrated to maximise resources and generate quick wins.

“During its strategic meeting last November, we committed to working on crafting and implementing a two-pronged strategy to significantly contribute to this objective: bridging and enhancing the internal fundamentals and harnessing our collective strengths to help in building a national future of shared prosperity,” Du-Baladad added.

“The two-pronged strategy is captured in our 2023 theme, ‘Bridging and building a progressive future’. This will guide our directions and activities for the year.”

Some priority programmes will integrate the major concerns of the MAP members gathered from the responses to a quick survey conducted in November 2022.

The following results identified the top 10 issues ranked from the most important to the least: Ease of doing business; economy; energy; climate change; competitiveness of local industries; education; agriculture; infrastructure; environmental, social and governance; and dealing with local government units.

Following several initiatives issued by the government last year that allow certain sectors to be fully owned 100% by foreign investors, including telecommunications, domestic shipping, railways, subways, airlines, airports, expressways and tollways, Du-Baladad expect more regulations to boost the global competitiveness of the Philippines.

“We are particularly interested in the passing, of the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act, the real property valuation reforms, and the remaining packages of the previous administration’s comprehensive tax reform programme,” she told Asia Business Law Journal.

“These would complete the total tax reform package of the Philippines, which would make our country more competitive and be on par with our neighbouring countries in terms of tax rates and systems.”

The Ease of Paying Taxes Bill will be a welcome development for all taxpayers as it seeks to simplify compliance procedures, modernise administration and strengthen the taxpayer’s bill of rights. This could be the answer to the decades-long challenge of value-added tax refund procedures.

The ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) could also potentially generate an increase in the country’s export competitiveness through improved market access, reduced trade barriers, and simplified and harmonised trade rules.

However, Du-Baladad observed that some sectors are not too comfortable with the RCEP, especially agriculture, which may lose its competitiveness, considering the high cost of agricultural production compared to other countries.

“These are just some of the welcome developments we look forward to in the year,” said Du-Baladad. “If implemented well, I believe these new pieces of legislation would serve as a catalyst for the growth of the economy.”