EDITORIAL - Preventing a slide
Malou Escudero (The Philippine Star) - June 1, 2016 - 12:00am

It’s just a one-notch slip, and several of the country’s neighbors also fell in the latest World Competitiveness Yearbook ranking of the International Institute of Management Development. Still, the Philippines’ 12th place among 14 Asia-Pacific economies should inspire resolve in the incoming administration to improve national competitiveness.

The rankings of 61 economies in the study were based on 342 criteria clustered under four categories. The Philippines, at 41st place, was generally seen to have done well except in terms of economic performance wherein it fell to 38th place from 34th.

An accompanying executive opinion survey identified the skilled workforce as the Philippines’ most attractive feature, followed by the dynamism of the economy, open and positive attitudes, high education level and cost competitiveness.

The least attractive factors have been previously pointed out by business groups: infrastructure, the legal environment and tax regime. These are areas where the next administration can prioritize measures for improvement.

Even in terms of workers’ skills, the country can use a major upgrade. While the quality of public education has improved in the past six years, with shortages in classrooms, teachers and textbooks addressed and the curriculum revised, Philippine education has not regained the cachet that it enjoyed several decades ago. The incoming administration must also address a skills mismatch.

A one-notch slip in competitiveness may not be significant, but it can lead to further deterioration. Gains achieved in the past six years must be sustained while new measures are implemented for improvement in many areas. The national objective must be to improve its ranking rather than to prevent a further slide in competitiveness.

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