‘Work harder to improve competitiveness’

Johanna Marie O. Bajenting

THE Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) has urged stakeholders to work harder on improving the business competitiveness of the country.

This, as a study from Bloomberg pointed out that the Philippines will be one of the Top 20 economies that will become the world’s economic growth drivers in 2024 together with Asian neighbors Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh and China.

“The Bloomberg chart showed growth sources which include mostly our Asian neighbors. It’s a given fact that growth comes from Asia. Our challenge is to increase that share of growth by making the country attractive to business,” CCCI president Virgilio Espeleta told SunStar Cebu.

Espeleta said the country’s competitiveness ranking has further declined but he remained hopeful that government reforms would help industries get back on track.

“The seemingly flattened trajectory of gross domestic product growth remained in the six level.In fact, it is struggling to beat the year-on-year levels. It has been the government spending that has been fueling growth (which is borrowed and generated from more taxes), hence our economy is mainly driven by construction spending and consumption,” he said.

“There is really hope,” said Espeleta. He noted that the country’s Ambisyon Natin 2040 framework should fast-track our development goals and the government, public and private sectors should share a common dream of progress to bring to fruition the ‘Matatag, Panatag, Maginhawa’ vision among us Filipinos. But let’s walk the talk,” Espeleta added.

He also pointed out the need for support for industries like manufacturing and local exports.

“While the spine of economic strength has weakened with the decline of foreign direct investment, investment spending, slowdown of (uncompetitive) manufacturing, real homegrown resource exports challenged our hopes,” said Espeleta.

But he noted that the country’s strength was hinged on other pillars like business process management and information and communications technology, tourism, remittances and the huge consumption base driven by a younger population. “Reality is we are “shoppers, buyers and consumers” but few are producers, planters, manufacturers. Hence, we import more and build more malls,” he said