Business pins hope on Duterte’s 10-point econ agenda to raise PH’s WEF ranking

By Victor Anthony V. Silva |September 28,2016 - 10:09 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda will help the Philippines rebound from its performance in the latest Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), business leaders in Cebu said.

Melanie Ng, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president, said she was confident the country will be able to improve its global competitiveness ranking if the current administration focuses on delivering its proposed reforms the soonest time.

“Then we are well on our way to creating a robust economy fueled by an increase in investments and job opportunities, thus increasing our global competitiveness rating,” she said in a text message.

For the first time in a decade, the Philippines dropped 10 spots in the competitiveness ranking and placed 57th out of 138 countries assessed by WEF.

The country saw a decline in seven of 12 pillars that determined the competitiveness of covered economies, including institutions, infrastructure, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, technological readiness, business sophistication and innovation.

According to WEF, entrepreneurs pointed out that the Philippines is the second lowest ranking country in the world when it comes to ease of doing business.

WEF cited as among the problematic factors of doing business here are inefficient government bureaucracy, inadequate infrastructure, corruption, tax rates and tax regulations, the country’s political instability, and restrictive labor regulations.

The country’s performance, however, improved in other pillars such as macroeconomic environment pillar, rising four notches to 20th place; health and primary education, up five spots to 81st, and higher education and training, up to 58th.

Where to focus

Ted Locson Jr., head of CCCI’s external affairs division, echoed Ng’s sentiments.

“Our government’s 10-point economic agenda practically addresses these issues. Therefore, if we are able to implement the programs for each of the ten, we are definitely going to improve our standing,” he said.

Duterte’s 10-point agenda include the continuation of current macroeconomic policies, tax reforms, and increase in ease of doing business, among others.

For his part, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) past president Philip Tan said this should come as a challenge for the government to do better.

“This is no time to relax. The present administration should see things differently and strive to continuously improve,” he said.

Tan said that the report reflected the perception of entrepreneurs in the past administration, not during President Duterte’s.

He said that the government faces pressure in sustaining economic improvements due to high expectations of businessmen in the country.

“The perception of businessmen is always based on experience. They compare experiences from before and the present. If they see positive changes from then and now, they give positive feedback. But if they don’t see anything better now compared to the positive changes then, they would give negative feedback,” Tan explained.

Tan added that other countries have overtaken the Philippines in the competitiveness ranking because their governments have been doing something to improve their positions.

Switzerland ranked the most competitive economy for the eighth consecutive year, ahead of Singapore and the United States.

He said this should give the new administration an idea which areas to focus on and which ones to sustain.

“I think the overall challenge is always continuous improvement,” said Tan.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017 is an annual assessment of the factors driving productivity and prosperity in 138 countries.

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