The World Bank's latest study of conducting business activities in the Philippines may not be reflective of "doing business" in the whole country, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said Thursday.
"I heard the survey was done only in the city of Manila, so this might not be reflective of the whole country," Recto told radio dzMM, reacting to the World Bank's Doing Business 2009 report.
The Philippines ranked 140th out of 181 economies in the report, which compares the regulations that enhance or constrain business activity. This year’s ranking was a decline from last year, when the country ranked 133rd out of 178 economies.
Recto, however, said the World Bank's study may be used by legislators and the national government in implementing reforms that would simplify the processes of getting a business started in the country.
Simplify long processes
The economic planning chief admitted that businessmen, including foreign investors, have to go through the long processes before starting their businesses.
"If you are a businessman, you have to go to the local government, the local treasurer, the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). There are too many offices to go to," he said.
Recto said the process can be simplified by deputizing the local government or designating representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry, BIR, SEC and other national offices to local government units.
He said the government can also simplify business transactions in the local level through computerization.
"We should be able to find ways to simplify this," he added.
The World Bank study said it takes 52 days to open a business in the Philippines.
RP behind most of Asia
The Philippines was behind most of its Asian neighbors. Singapore, where it takes only four days to start a business, topped the ranking for the third consecutive year. Thailand and Malaysia landed on the 13th and 14th spot, respectively, while Brunei ranked 88th. Vietnam was on the 92nd spot while Indonesia and Cambodia ranked 129th and 135th, respectively.
The Philippines performed better than Asian neighbors Laos (165th) and East Timor (170th).
The Doing Business 2009 is the sixth in a series of reports that rank economies based on regulations affecting 10 stages of the life of a business: staring a business, dealing with construction permits, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business.
The report, however, does not cover quality of infrastructure, investor perception or crime rates, macroeconomic policies, and currency volatility.