Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on the government to take immediate action to boost the country’s economic competitiveness after it took a big hit in recently released rankings.
“The slide in our country’s competitiveness should be a wake-up call for the government to pursue measures that will foster a more productive business environment for MSMEs and spur growth in key domestic industries with a lot of potential,” said Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.
The Philippines landed at the 50th spot in a ranking of 63 countries released in the 2018 World Competitiveness Yearbook, a dip of 9 notches from 2017 and the sharpest drop among Southeast Asian countries. The country’s ranking worsened across all four indicators: economic performance (from 26th to 50th), government efficiency (from 37th to 44th), business efficiency (from 28th to 38th), and infrastructure (from 54th to 60th).
Gatchalian acknowledged that while the country has made significant economic progress over the past few years, the country’s growth has been overshadowed by the rapid progress achieved by neighboring countries “which have placed economic growth and development at the center of their respective platforms of government.”
The senator also said that while the Duterte administration’s ambitious Build Build Build (BBB) infrastructure program is a “strong step in the right direction,” there are many more policy reforms left to achieve in order to boost the economy’s competitiveness.
According to Gatchalian, some points to focus on include addressing pervasive red tape, leveling the playing field for businesses and startups, and enticing a sharp increase in foreign direct investment (FDI).
Regarding the first point, the lawmaker is hopeful that the passage of the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018, which is set to be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte next week, will provide an immediate boost to government efficiency by streamlining business licensing, registration, and permitting processes.
On the second point, he urged the House of Representatives to prioritize the passage of a counterpart measure to the Philippine Innovation Act (Senate Bill 1355), which aims to establish a resilient culture of innovation that will boost the productivity of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
To increase FDI inflows, Gatchalian stressed the need to remove anti-competitive restrictions on foreign investments. The senator has already filed amendments to erase these restrictions from key economic laws such as the Public Services Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
“These reforms, among others, are poised to boost our economy’s competitiveness and bring us up-to-par with our regional allies. Ultimately, they will result in inclusive economic growth that will be felt by the people, which is why they should be a top priority of the government,” he added.