President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday called on businessmen to invest in education and skills training to strengthen the country’s domestic industries.

During the 11th Arangkada Philippines Forum 2022 at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay, the president said the country must be less dependent on imported products, which he said were the main driver of the country’s inflation.

“So again, import substitution is still a good idea not only for foreign exchange reserve but also, so that we can keep our inflation rate down,” he said.

“So to aid the transition that we are talking about, I invite you to invest in key areas such as education and skills training; digitalization of processes; and research and development,” he added.

Marcos Jr. also emphasized the country’s need to improve its digitalization efforts.

“We will have to compete, and we will have to cooperate with our neighbors in the region. And to do that, we must be, at the very least, at the same level of digitalization as they are. Right now, we are not quite there but let us work hard at it,” he said.

Improving the country’s connectivity rate, which remains below 70 percent to date, is also key to progress, Marcos Jr. said.

“That’s not good enough, especially for an archipelagic country such as ours where connectivity is exceedingly important because we have many isolated communities who need some form of contact, some form of communication with the rest of the country, with the rest of the world,” he said.

“Whatever the system is appropriate, we need to explore it, and we need to apply it,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro