The country needs to “deepen reforms” of the existing anti-competitive structures in the Philippine market to enable micro, small and medium enterprises to grow and to give employment opportunities that would sustain economic growth in the medium to long term, the head of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said.
Arsenio Balisacan, chairman of the PCC and former director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said during his opening statement on Tuesday at the PCC consultation that in spite of the country’s above 6 percent growth in gross domestic product for the past five years, there is still a “challenge to sustain the growth momentum in the medium to long term.”
“An even bigger challenge is making our growth more inclusive so that poverty reduction will be faster and rising prosperity will be felt deeper across the social spectrum,” Balisacan added.
The PCC is currently holding consultations with businessmen and other stakeholders to gather inputs and comments to improve the draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10667, the Philippine Competition Act (PCA).
The commission held its first consultation session with businessmen and other stakeholders for the draft IRR last May 16 in Cebu City, continuing with the Davao leg on May 20, and in Metro Manila on May 18 and May 24. The final and approved IRR is expected to be released in June.
During the Manila leg, Balisacan cited recent economic history indicating that “rapid growth that is not inclusive will not last” and that “the rising inequality will create social instability, hinder human capital formation — especially among the poor — and stifle innovations and productivity growth.”
“We need to deepen our reforms, including the reform of anti-competitive market structures and practices both in the private sector and in government, to sustain the economy’s current growth trajectory, make the growth more inclusive, and get the economic fiber more resilient to shocks, both domestic and global,” Balisacan said.
“Market reforms will be crucial to fostering a level playing field — a friendlier business environment — so that everyone, rich or poor, can benefit from and contribute to growth,” he added.
Balisacan noted that the country’s move to adopt a more competitive landscape through the PCA will enable inclusive growth focused on employment opportunities that will drive the economy in the medium to long term.
He also said competitive environment will increase overall public welfare as it will give consumers, including the poor, better access to goods and services at lower prices, greater product variety, and better quality of goods and services.
The PCA, enacted last year, seeks to promote fair market competition and imposes penalties on unfair market practices, including anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions, abuse of dominant position, cartels, and anti-competitive agreements.
Created in February, the PCC is a quasi-judicial body formed by the PCA, which is tasked to ensure an efficient market competition via leveling the playing field among businesses engaged in trade, industry, and all commercial economic activities; protect consumer welfare; and advance both domestic and international trade and economic development.