Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
According to the 2013 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce involving 10 ASEAN countries, the Philippines showed the greatest improvement in business environment from 2008 to 2013.
The AmCham surveyed 475 business leaders from US companies on their investment plans, outlook for the region, and perceptions of some of the key challenges and opportunities throughout the 10-member country ASEAN region. The Philippines was the most improved in business environment despite continuing concerns of corruption, tax structure and infrastructure.
The survey showed that for the Philippines, corruption topped the list of concerns with 59 percent followed by tax structure (56 percent), infrastructure (54 percent), laws and regulations (46 percent) and ease of moving products through customs at 44 percent. On the other hand, satisfaction in the Philippines increased across fourteen of the sixteen business factors over the last 5 years, led by a 50 percent increase in satisfaction with the stability of the government and political system. The survey also showed that 87 percent of the respondents are satisfied with the availability of trained personnel, giving us the highest percentage in the ASEAN. Other areas of satisfaction include sentiment toward the US (79 percent), availability of low cost labor (74 percent), stable government and political system (62 percent), personal security (56 percent), housing costs (56 percent), office lease costs (51 percent), new business incentives offered by government (44 percent), free movement of goods within the region (41 percent) and availability of raw materials (38 percent).
The challenges are still there, but AmCham business leaders have seen significant progress in recent years. Hopefully that positive sentiment transforms into tangible investments that lead to real jobs and ultimately, inclusive growth.
The pork barrel scandals and the growing clamor for its abolition that have been rocking the Aquino administration are making us forget that gains have been made and that we should still be thankful for them. If the American Chamber of Commerce can appreciate those improvements, Filipinos should as well.
Recognizing whatever little gains our country has made in the fight for good governance does not mean we should forget about the stink of the pork barrel scandal and stop demanding for accountability and justice, and its unconditional abolition. It just means that we can do both, that it is all right to pat the Aquino administration in the back as we loudly and firmly nudge it towards the right direction.*