4 March 2019


Arsenio M. Balisacan, PhD
Philippine Competition Commission

“Fostering Competition in the Philippines: The Challenge of Restrictive Regulations”
World Bank Report Launch
Makati City

Friends in the media, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

I congratulate the members of the World Bank team who spearheaded this comprehensive and well-researched study on market competition and government regulations.

The study, titled “Fostering Competition in the Philippines: The Challenge of Restrictive Regulations,” is a successful attempt at understanding the present business regulatory environment as well as the market outcomes we now observe in the major sectors of the Philippine economy. Over many decades, protectionist interventions have prevented more efficient players to compete in the market, resulting in unintended negative consequences, especially on the poor.

To policymakers, legislators, and advocates of economic progress, this study is a bold and proactive invitation to create a pro-competitive landscape that will benefit Filipino consumers and businesses alike in the years to come. Its detailed analyses and specific, workable policy recommendations provide numerous take-off points for dialogue and reform.

With the government’s flagship ‘Build, Build, Build’ program currently well underway, we need to complement government projects with policies that encourage free and fair participation of the private sector. Over the recent years, we have gained and strengthened our momentum for introducing market-friendly policies. The recent passage of the laws on rice tariffication and mobile number portability attests to this. Such regulatory reforms are critical toward sustaining the growth trajectory we are currently enjoying.

We at the Philippine Competition Commission believe that the country is primed and ready to take another leap forward with respect to regulatory reform. Presently, the PCC, together with the National Economic and Development Authority, is finalizing the National Competition Policy or NCP, an Executive Order containing a comprehensive framework that steers regulations and administrative procedures to promote free and fair market competition.

The NCP has three fundamental pillars. One, the effective enforcement of the Philippine Competition Act. Two, the enactment of pro-competitive government regulations and issuance. And three, the internalization of the principle of competitive neutrality. When the NCP is executed, all government agencies will effectively be directed by no less than the President to assess and remedy competition-related issues. The PCC is mandated to assist and collaborate with the NEDA in the formulation and adoption of this policy, as well as to create an inter-agency mechanism to operationalize it.

This endeavor is expected to further deepen market reforms through the internalization of competition principles within the government policy architecture, auguring well for the competition landscape across all industries and sectors.

Studies, training, and advocacy efforts undertaken by our development partners will be critical toward fully operationalizing the NCP. There is a pressing need to undertake a systematic assessment of our national policy architecture and identify the regulations where critical reforms can produce significant dividends. At the same time, for reforms to succeed, policymakers and legislators must gain a deeper appreciation of competition principles.

The PCC recognizes the urgency of this challenging endeavor. In the past nine years, the Philippines’ economic growth has averaged above six percent—arguably the country’s best performance in the past four decades. If the Philippines is to achieve the goals of Ambisyon 2040, we need to sustain rapid economic growth for at least two more decades. A broad sweep of reforms within the government policy architecture is key to improving the competition landscape and making economic growth truly inclusive.

Once more, congratulations to the team for the success of its project. We at the PCC look forward to more productive collaborations with the World Bank as we pursue free and fair market competition.

Thank you, and good morning to all.