PH’s 'dismal' digital competitiveness rank is a wake-up call to gov't - CitizenWatch

The Philippine's poor ranking in global digital competitiveness should encourage the administration of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. to do more in government's digital transformation, an advocacy group said on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

In a statement, CitizenWatch Philippines convenor Orlando Oxales specifically mentioned what he describes as resistance encountered by technology innovators in the form of bureaucratic gauntlets and unresponsive policies as major stumbling blocks in improving the country's competitive in the global digital economy.

Oxales said the IMD Digital Competitiveness Report, which ranked the Philippines to 56th, should serve as a wake-up call to the Marcos Jr. administration to address the issues with urgency.

“You can say the Philippines inched up two notches in the overall ranking, from 56th to 58th place. But the fact remains that with 63 countries included in the report, ranking 56th is so much closer to the bottom than it is to the top,” said Oxales.

“More importantly, we are the worst performers in Southeast Asia, lagging far behind our neighbors Singapore (4th), Malaysia (31st), Thailand (40th), and Indonesia (51st). For the whole of Asia, we outperformed only Mongolia," he added.

For a country touted as one of the most active social media users in the world, Oxales said the dismal ranking of the Philippines reeks of irony, adding that it is a serious matter that are causing expensive delays, a massive opportunity cost, in efforts to expand and upgrade our digital infrastructure.

The Philippine's poor ranking in the IMD Digital Competitiveness Report appears to support the recommendations made by Stratbase group founder and chief executive officer Victor Andres Manhit who emphasized that heavy investments to build a robust nationwide digital infrastructure is critical to economic recovery and sustainability.

He said this is only possible with the government, private sector, and all of society performing complementing roles according to their resources and strengths.

“Investment is not a one-way street where the private sector takes on all the hits. Equally important, the government must do its share in ensuring that private sector investments will prosper. As such, the government must provide the environment that promotes business growth through market-friendly public policies, transparency, and good governance with less risks for investors,” Manhit said.

The survey

The IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking measures the capacity and readiness of 63 economies to adopt and explore digital technologies as a key driver for economic transformation in business, government and wider society.

“Digital nations result from a combination of digital talent, digital regulation, data governance, digital attitudes, and the availability of capital,”said World Competitiveness Center Director Arturo Bris.

The results are from a mix of hard data and survey replies from business and government executives.

“No less than the IMD itself says that the rankings will ideally help governments and companies understand where to focus their resources,” Oxales said, adding that these will also provide leads on best practices when embarking on digital transformation.

Each economy is ranked in indicators under three main factors: knowledge, technology, and future readiness.

The Philippine challenge

“The pandemic made it very clear that embarking on a digital transformation is inevitable,” said Oxales.

“And while the government is still developing its ICT capacity and talent, the private sector is a ready partner for technology and expertise.”

The government must forge a greater partnership with the private sector, he said, would be to strengthen the investment environment and regulatory framework to encourage more investments in technology infrastructure as well as training and education to upgrade the skills of our workforce.

“For itself, the government needs to accelerate the automation of its operations and front-line transactions, increase productivity and efficiency, and generally make it easy for the public to digitally access services,” he said.