By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Philippines dramatically moves up 29 notches to 95th from 124th out of 190 countries in the global ease of doing business (EODB) ranking, making it to the top three high-jumpers globally and the most improved in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) both in rank and score.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar hailed the country’s improved rating as a “strong vote of confidence” towards President Duterte’s campaign to eliminate red tape and corruption.
Andanar said the administration expects “better results” as it sustain reforms to promote a business-friendly environment in the country.
“We welcome the remarkable improvement in the Philippines’ ranking in World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report where it jumped 29 spots to rank 95th out of 190 economies, getting the third best improvement among the countries covered, and the highest increase among ASEAN-member state,” he said.
“We expect even better results in the coming years as the government remains committed to give the Filipino people an easier and more comfortable life, thanks to the President’s strong political will to undertake these landmark reforms,” he added.
In the World Bank Doing Business 2020 Report, the Philippines was cited for its improvement in three indicators: Starting a business, dealing with construction permits, and protecting minority investors. The country’s EODB score also improved from 57.68 to 62.8 (+5.12) this year.
The report noted that the Philippines made starting a business easier by abolishing capital requirements for domestic companies. On construction permits, the Philippines made dealing with construction permits easier by improving coordination and streamlining the process for obtaining occupancy certificate.
The country also strengthened minority investor protections by requiring greater disclosure of transactions with interested parties and enhancing director liability for transactions with interested parties.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, who announced the country’s new improved ranking at the 7th Regional Competitiveness Summit, said the Philippines’ ranking has made the country the third highest improved country globally and the most improved in ASEAN both in rank and score.
This also puts the Philippines back to its 95th ranking in 2014. This cycle’s increase is the highest recorded annual improvement of the country since 2010.
The dramatic improvement in ranking followed after the World Bank made some corrections and inputted the reforms, which did not make it in last year’s survey. It could be recalled that the Philippines protested last year’s EODB Report but WB did not anymore revise the results that year.
“Last year, we protested and this is the data correction. They made the correction plus other reforms,” said Lopez. He noted that had WB included the reforms in last year’s report, the country would have improved
by 5-8 notches last year.
This year, Lopez said WB accepted only nine reforms out of the 42 because for it to be credited these reforms must have been experienced by the people already.
Lopez attributed the significant improvement in the country’s EODB ranking to the passage of Republic Act No. 11032, the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act last year, and the establishment of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) this year.
“We are confident that the gains will slowly but surely accrue with the implementation
of the EODB Law under the watchful eye of ARTA,” he said.
Progress was also made in advancing the ease of doing business to improve the country’s competitive rank in the World Bank EODB Report.
For example, Quezon City – as the pilot city in the WB Ease of Doing Business survey – has already established its Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS), as well as a one-stop shop for construction permits. QC plans to include barangay clearance issuances in the BOSS, as well as make Fire Safety Inspection clearance a post-registration requirement.
The City of Manila has also launched its one-stop shop for business permits and licenses under three easy steps: “File, Pay, and Claim.”
Parañaque City likewise launched their Project Express Lane Operation (ELO) 2.0, which includes the computerization of the occupational work permit. The city of Valenzuela has its 3S+ program – which stands for “Simple, Speed, Service Excellence” – and this includes a streamlined business permit processing and online and electronic payment system.
Meanwhile, ARTA is working to fulfil the EODB Law’s “3-7-20” rule. Under this rule, government agencies are required to complete simple transactions within three days; complex transactions within seven days; and highly technical transactions within 20 days.
“We are confident that the gains will slowly but surely accrue with the full implementation of the EODB Law under the watchful eye of ARTA. Further, these reforms and the momentum will continue even after the WB’s Quezon City is most competitive HUC survey,” he said.
Credit goes to Duterte
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez (Lakas-CMD, Leyte) and Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (PDP-Laban, Albay) credited President Duterte for the improved rating.
“Our country’s great leap in the World Bank ease of doing business survey is a big boost to our quest for more foreign and domestic investments.
This signifies the business community’s confidence on the structural reforms being implemented by the Duterte administration to propel our economy to greater heights,” said Romualdez.
Romualdez said Congress was able to lay the “groundwork to make our economy more competitive,” citing the enactment of the Ease of Doing Business Law and the Anti-Red Tape Act.
“We, in Congress, also remain committed to the approval of other pending measures required to improve our credit ratings. With these reforms, we trust that our march to progress will be steady and swift,” said Romualdez.
Salceda said reforms introduced under the Duterte administration “are now gaining traction.”
He agreed with Romualdez in pointing out that the EODB Law and the Anti-Red Tape Act bolstered the Philippiones bid to become among the preferred business investment havens in the world.
“The Philippine government is committed to harnessing a dynamic private sector through enabling public institutions,” noted Salceda, also vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.
According to Salceda the Duterte government has set its sights at putting the Philippines to the 20 percent of world economies in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report.
“But the biggest source of rigidity remains constitutional restrictions which compels many businesses desiring
to do business in the Philippines to go through complex structurings to gain access to a fast growing and robust domestic market with one of most demographically dynamic population base,” said Salceda.
“We give the President due credit for his resolute determination to prepare a national business landscape that will enable growth for generations to come,” he added.
According to Salceda the House of Representatives will continue to make its legislative contributions to the achievement of the goal of putting Philippines in the map of top economies in the world.
“In the coming months, the House of Reforms will push forward with greater vigour and speed scope scale of reforms,” said the senior administration solon. (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling and Ben R. Rosario)