Philippines' crime, infra among worst globally – World Economic Forum

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines remained globally competitive, ranking 56th out of 140 countries in the latest Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), but still lagged in major indices like crime and infrastructure.

The WEF underscored the country's institutions as being the weakest link among all indicators. The Philippines scored poorly in terrorism incidence (136th), reliability of police services (123rd), conflict of interest regulation (121st), and organized crime (120th). (READ: Rappler's Murder in Manila series)

"The report highlights the Philippines as one of the countries – along with Nigeria, Yemen, South Africa, Pakistan – with notable problems related to violence, crime or terrorism, and where the police are considered unreliable," the WEF said.

Graph from the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum

Infrastructure was also considered poor. Road connectivity (129th), exposure to unsafe drinking water (101st), efficiency of train services (100th), and electrification rate (100th) were among the country's downfalls.

Health services in the Philippines ranked 7th out of 9 countries in the region, and 101st in the world.

Businesses also continue to feel the pinch of the country's weak infrastructure. 

Time to start a business (115th), cost of starting a business (97th), and insolvency recovery rates (112th) remain weak indicators and are still seen as disruptive factors for doing business.

"While time and cost of starting a business remain as problematic factors for the business community, it is worthy to note that the Philippines ranks high in e-participation, or the use of online platforms to link government information to citizens," said Makati Business Club chairman Edgar Chua. 

"With the recently passed Ease of Doing Business Act, we remain optimistic that the government will be able to sustain these gains and address the concerns of efficiency in doing business," he added

Strengths 

The Philippines ranked 5th out of 9 countries in the Southeast Asian region.

The country excelled in labor market and macroeconomic stability, with both ranking 3rd in the region.

Despite the Philippines' inflation reaching a 9-year high, the report indicated that the rate of change of inflation was ranked 1st, tied with 74 other countries. 

Performance in insolvency regulatory framework (8th), internal labor mobility (9th), and pay and productivity (10th) were also among the country's strong points globally.

"Hopefully, we will see more business-government-academe linkages to support the growth of priority sectors. This type of dynamic ecosystem has been pursued by other economies which can be improved in the Philippines," Chua said.

This year's rankings are not comparable to previous reports, as the WEF has transitioned to a new Competitiveness Index, which "provides a much-needed compass to bridge needed long-term solutions for major economic challenges, and short-termism that prevails in governments, administrations, and corporations around the world."

But the report also noted that when the current measurements are applied to 2017, the Philippines improved by 12 notches.

The WEF explains that looking at competitiveness is relevant, as it shows a country's rising prosperity and indicates which are able to grow sustainably and inclusively. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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