The Philippines is still aiming at its “stretch target” to reach a “top third” spot or at least 63rd in the doing business rankings of World Bank-IFC (WB-IFC) this year, the chairman of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) said.
The NCC—through its chairman Adrian Cristobal Jr., who is also the incumbent secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as well as his co-chairman Guillermo Luz—said that the country is keeping its “stretch target” to reach the top third out of the 183 countries evaluated for the WB-IMF’s Doing Business Report.
“If we reach the upper third this year, I think it’s a bit of a stretch now. But it was an ambitious target since 2012. We’ve made big strides, gaining 45 notches [since 2013]. So we continue to strive to land in the upper third even if it’s a bit challenging,” Cristobal said.
For his part, Luz said the NCC is confident that the country can improve this year in the rankings by “at least between 10 and 12” notches.
“I think right now, [improvements will be]between 10 and 12 [notches]. But it depends on how all the countries are doing. If we move faster than them, we can move bigger, the jump will be bigger than 10 or 12. But the rough calculation is that we can improve 10 to 12 spots,” Luz said.
The NCC co-chairman said that the council is pushing the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Task Force to “speed up” its processes to fulfill the stretch target, and to speed up the business registration process in the country to “six steps in eight days” this year, and then further to “three steps in three days” by 2017 through the drive to automation, compared to the 16 steps and 29 days at present.
“In one year, we did [jump]30 spots, I think two to three years ago. It’s not impossible. My emphasis to the task force is to move with speed. You just have to move faster than the other countries, because the other countries are moving also. We have to move faster,” Luz said.
At present, the NCC and the EoDB Task Force is basing its steps on the Gameplan 4, which focuses on streamlining government agencies’ processes. Since 2013, the NCC implemented Gameplans 1 to 3, which have helped the country to rise 45 spots in the doing business rankings to its current 103rd.
Luz said that the NCC is now creating Gameplan 5.0, which will be released at the end of 2016, and which will focus on automating business processes.
Cristobal said that some of the pressing concerns to be addressed this year include processes of starting a business, registering properties, protecting minority shareholders, paying of taxes, trading across borders, and enforcing contracts.
As of end-2015, 1,456 out of 1,634 local government units have completed streamlining while a total of 1,403 (92 percent) out of 1,518 were able to comply with Business Permits and Licensing Systems (BPLS) standards, according to the quarterly report by the Department of Interior and Local Goverment’s (DILG) Local Government Academy.
The DTI has been working with the NCC and the EoBD Task Force to streamline regulatory procedures, including simplifying documentary requirements and implementing regulatory reforms related to starting a business in the Philippines.
In the past six years, the Philippines has gained higher scores in some competitiveness rankings in the world, including the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report (+38), WB-IFC (IFC) Doing Business Report (+45), Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index (+39), and the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (+49).