Gov’t urged to speed up competitiveness reforms

MANILA, Philippines—The good news is that the Philippines is moving forward in terms of business competitiveness. The bad news is that it’s not moving fast enough to keep pace with other countries with which it is competing against.

This was the message sent recently by the National Competitiveness Council as it urged the government to redouble its efforts at improving the country’s prospects as a base for investments both from local and foreign sources.

In particular, NCC co-chairman Guillermo Luz said that one key to improving competitiveness was to make it easier for businesses to be set up and to operate by simplifying government transactions and procedures, strengthening institutions and working with “more speed” along a multiple set of reforms over time.

Luz, who is also the executive vice president of the Ayala Foundation, made the statement following the recent release of the International Finance Corp.’s competitiveness survey where the country’s rank slipped to 136 out of 183 surveyed nations.

“The new ranking for 2012 reflects a slight decline mainly because reforms in the Philippines have not kept pace with reforms in other countries,” he said in a statement.

“The incremental pace of reforms will result in our falling further behind other economies if those economies are running toward improvement,” he warned, adding that to improve significantly, support was needed at “all levels.”

This included the areas of government policy, along with efforts toward better implementation, enforcement, incentives and sanctions.

Across the survey’s 10 key indicators for starting and closing businesses, the Philippines improved its ranking in three indicators but dropped in seven categories.

The country registered improvements in getting electricity connections for new businesses (54 this year versus 57 last year); trading across borders, which mainly reflects procedures and costs for importing and exporting goods (51 this year versus 54 last year); and enforcing contracts (112 this year versus 114 last year).

The Philippines’ ranking declined, however, in terms of starting a business (158 this year from 155 last year); dealing with construction permits (down to 102 this year from 98 last year); registering property (117 this year from 109 last year); getting credit (down to 126 from 116); protecting investors (down to 133 from 131); tax payment procedures (now at 136 from 127); and resolving insolvency (163 from last year’s 161).

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