November 11, 2011
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Friday says that if the Philippines wants to improve its business climate and get out of the “world’s worst countries for business” list, it needs to strengthen its institutions and rule of law, and end “pervasive corruption.”
“If you look at the reasons why the Philippines was placed on this list, you will see that our main deterrents to foreign investments, as cited by CNBC, are its ‘unstable legal system, violence, and bureaucracy.’ We are recognized for our abundance in natural resources and our human resources, yet it’s our institutions that have fallen short of global standards,” Pangilinan says.
The business website CNBC.com this week released a list of “The World’s 10 Worst Countries for Business.” The Philippines ranked #4, after Asian neighbors Indonesia and India, and even after Nigeria.
“Let’s take this as a harsh wake-up call and stop the finger-pointing and the blame game,” the senator says. “We need to buckle down and get to work because a lot needs to be done.”
One of the first things that government needs to work on, according to the lawmaker, is to flesh out mechanics of the country’s public-private partnership program (PPP). “There are a lot interested foreign investors, but the mechanics of the program are still unclear, and we got just 2.5 percent of direct foreign investment inflows to the ASEAN region. Nauunahan na naman tayo ng mga kapitbahay natin.”
“Another way of making business conducive in the country is to address corruption at all levels and to cut red tape. We need to make businesses feel welcome here, instead of driving them away,” Pangilinan points out.
But, according to him, “the real beef of foreign business are the inconsistencies of the judiciary. They feel that the judiciary can anytime overturn a decision that had already been ruled on before. It can be very confusing because many decisions of the judiciary in the past have not really worked to establish a solid and consistent business policy. This is on top of individual judges being corruptible as well. Para bang lahat dito sa bansa natin ay nabibili na lang, pati ang batas. Walang consistency, walang safeguards para sa negosyante.”
“The way to make us truly competitive globally is to strengthen all our institutions, strengthen the rule of law, and ensure that those who violate the law will be held accountable for their actions. Then we can show the world that we truly mean business,” Pangilinan concludes.