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Arroyo orders review to improve Philippine competitiveness

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:11:00 09/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered a review of reforms to improve the country’s business climate after a World Bank survey showed that Philippine competitiveness in attracting investments had slipped, a Cabinet official said.

At the same time, Trade Secretary Peter Favila said that amending the Constitution to ease limitations on foreign investments, would “enhance” the country’s competitiveness.

The “Doing Business 2009” report of the World Bank International Finance Corp. showed that the country ranked 140th out of 180 economies in terms of the ease of doing business, down four notches from 136 in the previous year.

“She wants to make a review of the initiatives we have undertaken, where we are, where we are lagging,” Favila told a news conference in Malacañang Thursday.

On Monday, Arroyo will convene the National Competitiveness Council at the Palace for the review, Favila said.

“A change in the Constitution, especially in the economic provisions, will enhance our competitiveness. The dynamics of the market will show. It is always in the area of economic limitations which is a major concern among investors,” the trade chief said.
Favila said he had informed lawmakers of his pitch for Charter amendments to improve the business climate in the country.

Asked what he thought of the World Bank survey, Favila said: “I wouldn’t say it’s unfair. In fact, I would say it is very constructive. It helps us. It helps the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) to continue to cut down on red tape.”

The trade chief however lamented that the study only covered Metro Manila and did not include the provinces, where the government has instituted reforms to cut red tape.

Favila cited a separate competitiveness study from the International Institute of Management Development (IMD), where the country’s ranking improved five notches.

A check on the IMD website showed that the Philippines ranked 45th in its 2007 world competitiveness study.

However, IMD World Competitiveness Center Director Stephane Garelli, in a statement on the website, warned: “On the other hand, Indonesia, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, the Philippines and France have tended to lose ground compared to the top league. Despite some real and specific competitive advantages, these nations will, sooner or later lose their standing in world competitiveness if they do not improve their overall performance.”

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-09-11T09:09:51+00:00UTC09bUTCThu, 11 Sep 2008 09:09:51 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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