THE Philippines should continue developing a number of sectors to remain competitive locally and internationally, the World Bank and the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) said after the country slid six notches to the 103rd spot in the latest Doing Business 2016 Report.
World Bank economist Dr. Karl Kendrick Chua noted a huge potential in telecommunications, shipping and rice industries in terms of competitiveness and creating jobs.
“The reason why we highlight telecommunications, shipping, and rice is the fact that these are the sectors wherein the cost are somehow prohibitive, negative to the quality of service you get,” he said.
In telecommunications there are lots of data showing how telephone cost, texting cost and internet costs are among the highest but with the lowest speed, Chua noted.
Shipping, on the other hand, is largely an oligopolous industry and is by far more expensive to ship between destinations in the Philippines than if you were to ship from a foreign port, he said.
“This is one reason why agriculture produce, for example from Mindanao, are having a hard time getting to the markets in Luzon or Visayas,” he said.
The country should continue efforts in enhancing rice productivity, taking into consideration that there are cheaper options available to provide more food security to Filipinos at a cheaper cost.
“We believe that these can help reduce costs in general, reduce minimum wage in general and ramp up a manufacturing sector that is really needed for this country to develop,” Chua said.
For NCC private sector co-chairman Guillermo Luz, improvement in the areas of energy and power sector, infrastructure, agriculture, education and processes might be the game changers for the country.
“I think we need to create big improvements, not only power generation and power distribution but in fact energy conservation and efficiency,” he said.
Luz suggested that the government continue to increase investment in infrastructure and spread it out across the country rather than concentrated in some places.
“The third area is agriculture. Most of the poor live in the rural areas and agriculture has been a sub performing sector for us and therefore needs some improvement and with the expiration of the Agrarian Reform Law. I think we really need to rethink if we get back into that or move into something different and assess that properly,” he said.
On education, Luz emphasized the importance of more vocational training, technology and innovation.
“As technology redefines work, it will redefine worker so therefore the whole educational system will have to continue to address the requirements of that new global worker,” he said.
Improvement in government processes is also needed as the country is still stuck in a lot of red tape and bureaucratic maze.
“I think, here, we need to look at more opportunities to streamline e-governance, for more automation, for more business-friendly, user-friendly ways of interacting with customers, with investors and with citizens,” Luz said.