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Competitiveness improves

Posted on September 09, 2011

PHILIPPINE COMPETITIVENESS has improved for a second year in a row, with the country notching gains in an expanded annual list.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index 2011-2012 ranked the Philippines 75th out of 142 economies, up from 85th out of 139 in the 2010-2011 report. Last year’s placing marked a reversal of 2009’s slide to 87th in a list of 133, from 71st out of 134 the year before.

On a worst to best scale of one to seven, the country’s score improved to 4.1, from 4.0 and 3.9 in the prior years. The Philippines, however, still placed below most of its ASEAN peers: of the eight in the list, only Cambodia in 97th was ranked lower.

Singapore, with a score of 5.63, was second overall next to first-placer Switzerland (5.74). Malaysia was 21st (5.08); Brunei, 28th (4.78); Thailand, 39th (4.52); Indonesia, 46th (4.38); and Vietnam was 65th (4.24).

Other Asian countries that ranked high in the 2011-2012 report were Japan (9th, 5.40), Hong Kong (11th, 5.36), Taiwan (13th, 5.26). China was in 26th place with a score of 4.90.

Despite ongoing fiscal problems, the top 10 was dominated by eurozone countries such Sweden (3rd, 5.61), Finland (4th, 5.47) and Germany (6th, 5.41)). The United States with a score of 5.43 was in 5th place.

The rankings released yesterday were based on a first quarter poll of 14,000 business leaders worldwide plus hard data measuring various indicators. For the Philippines, feedback from 90 executives belonging to the Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines, Business Process Association of the Philippines and the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. was utilized.

Of the 12 main “pillars” measured in the report, the Philippines was said to have improved in eight: macroeconomic environment (54th), technological readiness (83rd), goods market efficiency (88th), financial market development (71st), business sophistication (57th), innovation (108th), higher education and training (71st), market size (36th) and institutions (117th).

Lower scores were recorded in the areas of infrastructure (105th), health and primary education (92nd), and labor market efficiency (113th).

“Corruption, inefficient government bureaucracy, and inadequate supply of infrastructure have remained the top three problematic factors for doing business in the Philippines, based on the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey in the last four years,” the MBC said in announcing the report.

Officials said that while more work needed to be done, the overall progress signifies a step in the right direction.

“We are extremely happy with the results thus far,” said Guillermo M. Luz, National Competitiveness Council co-chairman.

“When we set out to improve our rankings, we realized we had to be systematic and persistent in our efforts in order to record consistent grains over time,” he added.

“The teamwork between government and the private sector and the coordination among different government agencies is beginning to show results ... The difference in participation between the current and previous administrations are like night and day, because back then, you couldn’t even get the agencies, like the previous Ombudsman, to attend the meetings,” Mr. Luz claimed.

The public-private competitiveness council has been made a member of the Malacañang’s economic cluster giving it access to Cabinet officials responsible for some of the 110 indicators in the study.

Mr. Luz said the council, which tracks the country’s performance in the WEF report and the International Finance Corporation’s Doing Business Survey, would be incorporating the latest results in a color-coded monitor.

The record, which looks at the country’s performance in both surveys, aims to help government agencies come up with medium term plans in a bid to pull the Philippines’ ranking to the top 30 or 50 by 2016.

“We’ll come up with the updated list of indicators by the end of this week. This also means that we have to write to all government agencies about their latest performances,” Mr. Luz said at the sidelines of the launch.

“This will also serve as the basis for the NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) results matrix which will come out toward the end of the year,” he added.