Philippines steps up reforms to improve competitiveness

The Philippine government is stepping up its reforms to further improve global competitiveness in response to the increasingly
international and regional nature of trade and commerce.

Assistant Sec. Geronimo Sy of the Department of Justice (DOJ) told a recent briefing on competition reforms that the country aims to bring down its corruption perception index ranking to 59 in three years’ time, from 134 in 2010, 129 in 2011, and 105 in 2012. 

Doing business in the Philippines should be much better for foreign investors  in the near future as well, with the government targeting a ranking of 62 in 2016 from 134 in 2010, 136 in 2011, and 138 last year, said Sy

The government hopes to raise its ranking from 85 in 2010, 75 in 2011, and 65 in 2012 to 48 in 2016.  Sy  said that these targets can be achieved with an effective combination of competition policy and competition law that upholds fair and transparent
rules, combats corruption in governance, and cuts through red tape.

Among  the prominent elements of the competition policy are the promotion of the dual role of regulators and the imposition of regulatory reforms. 

Sy explained  that regulators should not just be regulating industries but also promoting healthy competition and social objectives.

“Competition regulations must define the jurisdictional boundaries of sectoral regulators to avoid uncertainty over which rules apply to firms operating in several distinct markets.” 

There should also be efforts to remove competitive distortions that arise from sectoral regulators’ attempt to preserve their jurisdiction and that lead to misallocation of resources.

Sy also said that new and existing rules on competition are to be reviewed  regularly to ensure that economic regulations stimulate competition and efficiency. 

On  the other hand, those that restrict entry, access, exit, pricing, and output, among others, will be reviewed periodically to ensure that their benefits outweigh the costs. 

Sy  said a competition bill is currently being updated by the Office for Competition (OFC) of the DOJ and will have for its major features prohibiting and defining anticompetitive agreements, abuse of dominance,  and anticompetitive mergers, providing penalties, administrative measures, a leniency program and the creation of a Competition Commission.