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Gatchalian: Innovation to help boost PH economic competitiveness

MANILA, Philippines – An aerial survey taken 19 Oct 2018 over this dense informal settlement and stacks of cargo shipment at the nearby Port Area provides a glimpse of stark contrast that paint the Philippine economy. Senate Committee on Economic Affairs is calling on the government to sustain its gains and further improve its competitiveness ranking by pursuing measures that will foster a more productive business environment for MSMEs and spur growth in key domestic industries. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on the government to develop a culture of innovation in order to boost the country’s economic competitiveness.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, made the call after the World Economic Forum (WEF) issued its latest Global Competitiveness Report, which ranked the Philippines 56th out of 140 economies. While the country’s ranking improved by 12 notches from 68th in 2017, the senator pointed out that implementing certain policy reforms would help boost the country’s economic competitiveness even further.

“The improvement of the Philippines’ ranking in the latest Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum shows that the government’s initiatives to improve the ease of doing business have been working. In fact, this year, President Duterte signed into law the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018 (Republic Act No. 11032), which has helped build a more business-friendly environment in the Philippines,” Gatchalian said.

“The challenge for the government now is to sustain these gains and improve our ranking even further. The government needs to continue pursuing measures that will foster a more productive business environment for MSMEs and spur growth in key domestic industries,” he added.

Citing the latest WEF report, Gatchalian noted that the Philippines continues to trail behind the likes of Singapore (2nd), Malaysia (25th), Thailand (38th) and Indonesia (45th) in the Southeast Asian region.

The WEF report, which measures a country’s competitiveness using a set of criteria that determine level of productivity, highlighted that the Philippines’ strength rests in its market size (32nd), labor market (36th), financial system (39th) and business dynamism (39th). On the other hand, the same report noted that the Philippines still needs to fix and enhance its institutions (101st), health (101st), and infrastructure (92nd), as well as address the country’s weakness in terms of actual innovation in the economy (67th).

Gatchalian said that the points raised by the WEF may be addressed with the passage of measures that will level the playing field for businesses and startups and entice a sharp increase in foreign direct investment (FDI).

For this reason, the lawmaker urged the House of Representatives to pass the counterpart measure to the Philippine Innovation Act (Senate Bill 1355), which aims to establish a resilient national culture of innovation that will boost the productivity of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

He explained that the measure “puts innovation at the center of our national development policies, making innovation a major driver of economic development.”

Gatchalian also renewed his call for the removal of anti-competitive restrictions on foreign investments, pointing to key amendatory measures he has filed to erase these restrictions from key economic laws such as the Public Services Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.

“We cannot afford to take half-steps, or rely on sporadic efforts in our bid to fuel sustainable and inclusive growth. We need to finally develop a culture of innovation that will propel our nation to greater economic heights,” Gatchalian said.