WITH some reason, the PRRD administration (particularly the DTI) made a lot of noise about the improvement in the ease of doing business in the Philippines, based on the World Bank report for 2020.
We had jumped from the 120s to the rank of 95, putting us, as targeted, at the 50% mark among the 190 countries in the survey. Whenever you meet a target, you have all the right to celebrate. And when you jump 20 or so rungs you have an additional reason to celebrate.
For next year the Government is targeting ranking among the top 40% of the 190, or about 76th on the world.
But – and weren’t you expecting a but? – there’s also much to worry about in the report. Principally, the Philippines in comparison to its fellow ASEAN members is woefully far behind.
Singapore, as I stated last Monday, is at 2nd. Malaysia is 12th. Thailand is 21st. Brunei is 66th. Vietnam is 70. Indonesia is 73rd.
And we are at 95!
Now, we are setting the goalpost at 76. Assuming the other ASEAN states do not rise in the ranking, that will still place us 7th out of the ASEAN 10, above Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Are we happy with that?
With PRRD registering the highest numbers in satisfaction surveys and in complete control of both Houses of Congress, why can’t the government focus on making sure that by 2020 we will be among the top 5 in ASEAN and by 2022 maybe #2 or #3? Why can’t the administration, with its unchallenged command of the political landscape, gather its political leaders together and hammer out the programs and policies necessary to make the Philippines one of the best in ASEAN where doing business is concerned? Once and for all, while we have an administration with such a deep amount of popular support, why can’t we do what should have been done a long time ago to make us truly competitive?
Is it because the business interests are too well-entrenched and our politics too deeply intertwined with them?
Or is it because we are targeting only a certain type of business interest that doesn’t care about, perhaps even thrives in, a business and regulatory environment that’s, uhm, murky?
C’mon, guys, move the goalpost. We should be better than 76th and better than 7th in the ASEAN 10, right?
What better time to take the biggest strides than now?