WATCH | Palace, competition body weigh in on PH’s 14-rung decline in global index on ease of doing business

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MANILA – The Executive branch and the Philippine Competition Commission acknowledged on Thursday the Philippines’ decline by 14 rungs in a global index of how countries promote ease of doing business, but both expressed confidence that with reforms being seriously pursued, Philippine rankings could improve next year.

Conducting his first press briefing as acting presidential spokesperson, former lawmaker Harry Roque told Palace reporters: “Higit na pagsusumikapan ng pamahalaan na pagandahin ang ranking ng Pilipinas pagdating sa estado ng pagtatayo ng negosyo sa bansa [The government will work harder to improve the Philippines’ ranking in terms of facilitating commerce].”

In a separate development, PCC chairman Arsenio Balisacan said, “The latest drop in rankings of the Philippines in the World Bank Group report on Ease of Doing Business is a sobering account of our performance in attracting new investors and putting up new businesses in the country.”

The country’s competition law is adequate in providing the right climate for facilitating business, and the PCC contantly pushes for “synergies in streamlining procedures, cutting down the processes to encourage businesses, and opening the market to more players to reach a level playing field,” Balisacan said in a statement.

“The competition law is friendly to both big businesses who are well-positioned in the market and the emerging ones. We will work together with the private and public sector to boost competition and allow new businesses to get a fair shot at entering and thriving in the market,” added the competition czar.

The Philippines fell from 99th last year to 113th among the 190 countries included in this year’s edition of the World Bank Group report. In terms of specific indicators, the Philippines ranked the lowest in terms of starting a business (173rd), followed by enforcing contracts (149th) and protecting minority investors (146th).

The Philippines’ distance-to-frontier (DTF) score of 58.74 was below the average of 62.7 for East Asia and Pacific economies. DTF measures how far an economy is to the best performer on each of the indicators, using a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 representing the model economy.

For his part, Atty. Roque said the economic managers had made it clear that the Philippines’ scores actually improved, but that in relative terms, it slipped in the rankings because it was ranged against 30 other countries that saw substantial improvements in their scores.

Nonetheless, Roque said, the Department of Trade and Industry has been moving quickly to address issues that hinder business transactions, heeding President Duterte’s admonition to make sure the country fares better next year.

Roque told reporters: “But I am sure, the President, in November of next year, would want to see a substantial improvement regardless of whatever reasons the Department may have to justify the standing of the Philippines. I assure you. Things will move in DTI to make it easier for individuals to invest.”