PCC calls for reforms in long-protected sectors

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    The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) yesterday called for the implementation of competition reforms in the telecommunication industry in view of the acceleration of the digital shift due to the pandemic.

    “The economy stands to gain if policymakers pass pro-competitive laws and regulations to shake up stagnant , long protected industries like telecommunication,” said Arsenio Balisacan, PCC chair, at the Roundtable Discussion

    on Competition in the Recovering Economy held virtually yesterday.

    Balisacan said with the significant fall in foot traffic and brick and mortar stores these days, , many micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are finding it necessary to move their businesses into the digital sphere.

    “Thus, competition-enhancing reforms in the telco sector have now become even more critical and urgent,” Balisacan said.

    The PCC has championed the cause of MSMEs in ensuring financial support from government due to the pandemic.

    Balisacan said in various position papers, the Commission recommended that subsidies be more equitable to and inclusive of MSMEs and that access to subsidies be transparent and nondiscriminatory.

    The pandemic, he said, could in general prompt industries to adapt extraordinary measures including anti-competitve behavior such as cartel and abuse of market dominance that could exacerbate the losses incurred

    Balisacan said adhering to competition principles remains beneficial during the pandemic, and becomes even more so during the recovery period.

    As it is, the Philippines relative to other countries in East Asia and the Pacific region, harbors a higher proportion of monopolies, duopolies, and oligopolies in the manufacturing sector, Balisacan said.

    “We find that we have much to do to reverse state-enabled restrictions stifling market competition and the realization of the country’s economic potential when we examine the World Bank’s Product Market Regulation indicators. Relative to other Asian economies, Philippine markets exhibit higher restrictions on competition, and restrictive state measures significantly contribute to this outcome,” Balisacan said.

    In the same forum, Benedicto Yujuico, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the ongoing pandemic has disrupted the equilibrium of domestic and international markets.

    As in any part of the world, there are winners and losers with the changing business landscape. — Irma Isip