By Denise A. Valdez, April 17 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Business World

THE PHILIPPINES is targeting an improvement in rank in the World Bank’s annual Doing Businesssurvey to above 95th place by 2020 from 124th out of 190 economies in the 2019 report, as the government said it has been pursuing reforms to improve the regulatory environment for businesses.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters on Tuesday the government has now implemented 33 out of 43 reforms designed to further improve ease of doing business in the country.

“We’re happy to note that for this year… we are submitting 43 reform initiatives, and 33 reforms accomplished na. This is again an effort to propel to a much better ranking,” he said as the Quezon City government signed ease of doing business agreements on Tuesday.

These reforms include Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, RA 11232 or the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines, and RA 11057 or the Personal Property Security Act of 2018.

Asked about the targeted rank for the Philippines, Mr. Lopez replied: “I would say 90-94 might be a good number; high 80s to 94” explaining that even if just 25-28 of the 33 accomplished reforms will be recognized for the next assessment, that should be enough to push the country above 95th place “na (that was our) best score natin a couple of years ago.”

The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report is scheduled to come out in October.

The government of Quezon City — which is used as basis for the Philippines’ doing business rank — signed at the Quezon City hall memoranda of understanding (MoU) with the Land Registration Authority (LRA), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) as well as water and electricity concessionaires Manila Water Co., Inc.; Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to simplify processes for registration and permits within the city.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert M. Bautista said the streamlining of processes for construction permits “will make it so much easier for the public to apply for new water connections and for the installation of electric poles.”

The World Bank assesses the doing business competitiveness of countries based on 10 indicators, namely: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

Mr. Lopez said Quezon City has already been working on five of the criteria, namely: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property and paying taxes.

He said that while all local governments are encouraged to improve their doing business environment in order to encourage entrepreneurs and attract investors, Quezon City took the lead in signing MoUs because it is the Philippines’ benchmark in the World Bank report.

He also noted that since the World Bank survey has been under way for the 2020 report and will enter the validation stage by early May, the recent MoUs in Quezon City may not be taken into account yet.

Pero sabi nga namin [But as we said], the reforms and the momentum should continue, even after the survey… We have to continue the momentum of these reforms so that, by the end of the year moving into next year, mafi-feel na ’yung improvements [you could feel the improvements by then],” Mr. Lopez said. — Denise A. Valdez