Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UK looks forward to RP's presidential elections

By Pia Lee-Brago
The Philippine Star
Updated December 09, 2009 12:00 AM

Original Story: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=530804&publicationSubCategoryId=63

MANILA, Philippines - The United Kingdom looks forward to next year’s elections but said the government should not lose momentum in economic and social reform through business legislation.

British Ambassador Stephen Lillie said the country has already advanced in “competitiveness-enhancing” reforms.

“It is essential that the handover from one administration to the next should not lead to a loss of momentum in terms of economic and social reform,” Lillie said.

“The momentum has already been established with the wave of reforms passed in Congress,” he added.

The British embassy supports the project of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) titled “Improving Philippine Competitiveness through Policy of Economic Reforms and Strategies” that identifies legislative reforms that should be prioritized by the new Congress in 2010.

“Next year (2010) is an election year, the lawmakers can only do so much for the rest of the duration of the 14th Congress. Thus, the project is poised to identify legislative reforms for inclusion in the priority list of the next Philippine Congress (15th Congress),” said UPOU dean and project coordinator Dr. Fe Mendoza.

UPOU pushes for reforms like the amendment to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Charter, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, Corporate Recovery Act, and amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, among others, to spur the country’s economic growth.

Lillie said the project provides a forum for consultation and discussion before and after elections to improve the country’s economic competitiveness.

Congress has passed the Credit Information System Act (Republic Act 9501), which seeks to create a comprehensive and centralized credit information system, and the Personal Equity and Retirement Account (Republic Act 9505), a voluntary contribution retirement fund.

To encourage investment in the stock market, Congress also permanently exempted stock trading from documentary stamp tax (Republic Act 9496).

Also passed was the Real Estate Investment Company Act (Republic Act 2629), which allows investors to own and finance large-scale real estate projects at low rates.

Mendoza said this is the right time to draft the next legislative agenda because the Philippine economy is still fragile, growing only 0.8 percent in the third quarter, 3.8 percentage points lower than the 4.6 percent growth in the same period last year.

This year, the Philippines consistently lagged behind in global competitiveness rankings.

The 2009 World Competitiveness Yearbook of Geneva-based Institute for Management and Development ranked the Philippines 43rd among 57 economies in terms of global competitiveness. The Philippines ranked 40th last year.

The country also ranked last among 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Compared to other economies, the Philippines ranked poorest in basic infrastructure, international investment, public finances, education, productivity and efficiency, and business legislation.

The Philippines also slid to 87th place this year, from 71st place last year, in the Global Competitiveness Report 2009, a study conducted by the World Economic Forum.

World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2010 also lowered the ranking of the country from 141st last year to 144th this year.

Original Story: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=530804&publicationSubCategoryId=63

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