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Anti-corruption, economic strides boost PHL in global competitiveness

Posted On 2012 Sep 10
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MANILA, Sept 6 (Mabuhay) – Of 148 countries assessed by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) in terms of fostering a business-friendly environment, the Philippines achieved huge strides in addressing corruption and the macroeconomy – making it one of those that showed “the most improvement” by zooming 22 notches up from its lowest point in 2009 to land on the 65th spot in the 2012-2013 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report.
“The Philippines makes important strides this year in improving competitiveness – albeit often from a very low base – especially with respect to its public institutions (94th, up 23 notches),” the report read.

“Trust in politicians has made considerable progress (up 33 notches to 95th), although significant room for improvement remains,” it added.

In a media briefing on the GCR Wednesday, Makati Business Club chair Ramon del Rosario Jr. noted the speed in which the country climbed through the rankings.

“From… 75 last year, the Philippines jumped to… 65. This is the second straight year that the country climbed 10 places up the competitiveness ladder. Last year, the country improved from… 85 to 75,” Del Rosario said.

The aim is to land within the Top 30 in 2016, said National Competitiveness Council co-chair Guillermo Luz.

The assessment areas

Enumerating the assessment areas, the GCR noted in its report, “The perception is that corruption (up 11 notches to 108th) and red tape (up 18 notches to 108th) are finally being addressed decisively, even though they remain pervasive.

“The macroeconomic environment also exhibits marked improvement (up 18 notches to 36th) and represents one of the strongest aspects of the Philippines’ performance, along with the market size pillar (35th),” the Switzerland-based think tank said.

It cited the Philippine financial sector for having turned into a “… more efficient and increasingly supportive of business activity (up 13 notches to 58th).”

But the report did stress that despite “… these very positive trends, many weaknesses remain to be addressed.”

It particularly noted how the Philippines’ infrastructure “is still in a dire state, particularly with respect to sea (120th) and air transport (112th), with little or no progress achieved to date.

“Furthermore, various market inefficiencies and rigidities continue, most notably in the labor market (103rd).”

Compared with others

The Philippines ranked higher than Russia – host of this year’s APEC Summit – and Southeast Asian neighbors Vietnam (75th), Cambodia (85th), and Argentina (94th), but landed 15 rungs below Indonesia and six notches behind India – its main market competitor in business process outsourcing.

Up the ladder were other Southeast Asian neighbors: Thailand was 38, Brunei – 28, Malaysia – 25, Taiwan –13, and Singapore – No. 2.

12 competitive areas

GCR assessed the 148 countries in 12 competitiveness areas in which the Philippines advanced in 11.

Strengths:
In terms of institutions, the Philippines was up 23 notches to 94
Up by seven to 98 in terms of infrastructure
Up by 18 to 36 in environment
Up by seven to 64 in higher education and training
Up two notches to 86 in goods market efficiency
Up 10 notches to 103 in labor market efficiency
Up 13 notches to 58 in financial market development
Up four notches to 79 in technological readiness
Up one notch to 35 in market size
Up eight notches to 49 in business sophistication
Up 14 notches to 49 in Innovation.
Weaknesses

Based on the WEF assessment, the Philippines did not improve in health and primary education – which happen to be among the key targets of government’s conditional cash transfer program and hefty increases in national budget allocations.

The report noted weaknesses in a number of procedures to start a business, the burden of customs procedures, the business costs of terrorism, as well as tuberculosis cases, redundancy costs, flexibility of wage determination, and strength of investor protection.

“Our trajectory is in the right path. There should be closer partnership between the government and the private sector to improve in the rankings. It’s possible to make gains,” Luz said. (MNS)

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