By Anna Leah E. Gonzales, August 18 2018; The Manila Times


Image Credit to European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines

THE Philippines still has plenty to do to enhance its competitiveness, which remains a great concern to the international business community, a top official of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said on Friday.

In a speech during the two-day Innovations in Infrastructure Forum 2018 in a hotel in Parañaque City, ECCP Executive Director Florian Gottein said that despite efforts to raise its competitiveness level, including the recent passage of Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act, the country “still has a long way to go.”

“From our point of view as a business organization, the more competitive the Philippines is seen by the international business community, the easier it would be to convince European companies to invest and to do business here in the country,” he said.

Inadequate infrastructure was dragging the country’s competitiveness, he added, citing the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018” report that put the Philippines at 56th place out of 137 economies.

That report raised concerns over the country’s inefficient government bureaucracy, poor state of infrastructure, tax rates, and corruption.

“In fact, infrastructure is ranked as the second most important business concern, after inefficient government bureaucracy and just before corruption,” Gottein said.

According to European Union (EU) Ambassador Franz Jessen, the government’s “Build Build Build” infrastructure program could hopefully spur growth in the country.

“Infrastructure is important, because it [not only]provides essential basic services to the people, but also…the backbone for economic development and job creation,” Jessen explained.

“In the Philippine Development Plan [2017-2022], investments in infrastructure are linked to job creation, inclusive growth, the wider business enabling environment, and many government priorities,” he said.

“Beyond the physical infrastructure lie these wider aspects: this is the social infrastructure. The Philippines is investing in infrastructure, and it is investing in its people,” the envoy added.

The right policies and infrastructure in place, more jobs can be created, according to Jessen.

Organized by the ECCP and the EU-Philippines Business Network, the forum aims to address the opportunities and challenges in developing smart and sustainable cities in the country, and using technologies that support faster infrastructure development.