Still not easy – Manila Standard


A recent survey shows that while the Philippines has made marginal improvements in enabling companies to do business here, it has been outpaced by other members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

According to the 2018 World Bank-International Finance Corporation Doing Business Report released this week, the Philippines is at 113th place among 190 economies.

Last year, we were at 99th place.

The survey measured ease of doing business in a key city—in this case, Quezon City—in terms of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency.

The survey measured countries’ distance to frontier scores—the distance of each economy to the “frontier” which represents the best performance observed on each of the indicators across all economies in the Doing Business sample since 2005.

The Philippines’ DTF actually inched up year on year, from 58.32 to 58.74. It also registered notable improvements in getting electricity and in paying taxes.

Nonetheless, the overall DTF remains below the regional average of 62.70 for East Asia and the Pacific.

There are many other figures to cite, but we think we know exactly what these latest results are telling us.

First, all the bravado from the mouths of our officials amount to nothing when measurable, not anecdotal, indicators are needed. Business here on our shores is the only way we can sustainably lift people from poverty—and all the ills that go with it.

Second, while there are equally important issues to address simultaneously, the report already tells us the areas where we are doing poorly. We are sure our economic managers can take a hint from what the international document is pointing to.

Finally, remember the adage that it never pays to compare yourself to others and just focus on your own progress? That makes for a good motivational speech—but not in this case. That the Philippines saw a slight improvement is insignificant when taken together with the fact that the rest of the world, or at neighboring economies, improved so much more than we did. There is a finite amount of foreign investments to go around.

If other countries perform better than we do, it is natural they will get the additional investments, and we will be left with the crumbs—if there are still any to pick up.

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