Why we can’t seem to attract investments


The Philippines is known for having the poorest overall quality of public infrastructure among ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore) economies. It’s ranked 95th out of 144 economies, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness 2014-15 rankings.

Singapore ranked 5th, Malaysia 20th, Indonesia 72nd, and Thailand 76th.

But what is little known is that the Philippines ranked fourth among ASEAN-5 economies in terms of some good governance indicators. It was only better than Thailand, which as we all know went through several years of political crises that eventually resulted in military rule.

So put the blame on the ineffective, overregulated, inefficient and opaque government too.

At the global level, any ranking higher than 72 means the country belongs to the lower half of all countries included in the survey. The Philippines’ ranking fell below that threshold with respect to the quality of public institutions (ranked 75), diversion of funds (78), ethics and corruption (81), burden of government regulation (73) and transparency of government policymaking (85).

The Aquino III administration takes pride in having a transparent government. Seriously? The world community appears unconvinced. Among the good governance indicators, the Philippines ranked the worst in terms of transparency of government policymaking. It ranked 85th out of 144 economies, and ranked fourth among ASEAN-5 economies.

If the Aquino III administration is truly open, why has the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill continued to languish in Congress? It can’t be because President Aquino III has no influence or persuasive power on his political allies in both houses of Congress, because he does. Or is it because he has decided a long time ago that no such FoI bill should pass Congress?

ASEAN integration is just around the corner. Is the Philippines ready for the common ASEAN market? Apparently not. The most recent rankings on various aspects of good governance suggest that the Philippine government is severely handicapped. It is ineffective, inefficient, wasteful and opaque.

Overall, its political institutions are weaker than their ASEAN-5 counterparts, except Thailand. With allegations of corruption associated with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the presidential abuse of public funds associated with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and allegations that the DAP was used to bribe congressmen to impeach, and senators to convict, the former Chief Justice, the approval and trust ratings for the presidency, the Senate and the House have hit rock bottom.

To date, where the DAP spending went and who benefited from it remain largely unknown. The Commission on Audit, the constitutionally designated watchdog of public funds, has yet to produce a comprehensive audit report that would show the culpability of legislators and administrators, both political foes and friends. Not surprisingly, the general perception is that there is selective justice under the Aquino III regime.

The challenge for Mr. Aquino — and whoever will succeed him — is how to drastically change this poor governance image of the Philippines. The first step is to accept that all’s not well in the Philippines, as its ASEAN neighbors are outranking it.

Source: Business World