Do you cheer the progress or boo the standing?
Here's how the Forum summarizes the Philippines:
- "Ranked 65th, the Philippines is one of the countries showing the most improvement in this year’s edition. Indeed, it has advanced 22 places since reaching its lowest mark in 2009. The Philippines makes important strides this year in improving competitiveness—albeit often from a very low base—especially with respect to its public institutions (94th, up 23 places). Trust in politicians has made considerable progress (95th, up 33), although significant room for improvement remains. The perception is that corruption (108th, up 11) and red tape (108, up 18) are finally being addressed decisively, even though they remain pervasive. The macroeconomic environment also exhibits marked improvement (36th, up 18) and represents one of the strongest aspects of the Philippines’ performance, along with the market size pillar (35th). In addition, the financial sector has become more efficient and increasingly supportive of business activity (58th, up 13). Despite these very positive trends, many weaknesses remain to be addressed. The country’s infrastructure is still in a dire state, particularly with respect to sea (120th) and air transport (112th), with little or no progress achieved to date. Furthermore, various market inefficiencies and rigidities continue, most notably in the labor market (103rd)."
There are certainly a lot of caveats in the report. Almost every positive statement has a negative or cautionary "but" attached to it.
And some of the barriers to competitiveness are stuck in a timeless cement, like sea and air infrastructure. Perhaps the current investment being made to upgrade airports will unstick these rankings.
The report certainly gives clear indication of where the Philippines needs to improve.
I view the report with a cheer myself. It confirms this notion I've been writing about that President Aquino's honest-government agenda is meaningful. Tangibly meaningful.
You can bet the Get Real scribes will be busy pounding their keyboards to put a boo on standings without recognizing the ratings are up. Not down. It will be a slick sleight of word, I am sure.
I'd say going up 22 places in three years is pretty damn decent. From 87th to 65th, out of 144?
The going gets tougher from here. You have to start knocking off more competitive nations.
But the way forward to do this is clear:
- Get rid of red tape.
- Get more skilled people into the labor force.
- Get the airports, including cargo terminals and customs processes, up to speed.
- Get ports upgraded, including customs processes.
- Continue the good works on corruption and financial stability.
I wonder to what extent opening up the Philippines to greater foreign ownership would signal "confident and competitive" to the Forum?
Oh, never mind. That would have to go through the Congress, that inert pile of unethical, inefficient, pork-chasing irrelevancy.
But I digress. Back to the point.
Congratulations to the Executive Branch on this fine achievement. The boss and the Cabinet Secretaries and the Heads of the cluster groups that cut across multiple departments to focus on results.
Cheers, for sure.