By Mario Casayuran
Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate economic affairs committee, asserted on Tuesday that the dubious distinction of the Philippines as the “sick man of Asia” would soon be a thing of the past.
Gatchalian made this assessment following a “glowing’’ foreign news report which crowned the Philippines as the “best country to invest in.”
“Over the past few decades, the Philippines came to be known as the ‘sick man of Asia’ due to its disappointing economic performance in comparison to its Asian neighbors,” he said.
‘’Fortunately, international recognition of the country’s vibrant economic outlook through rankings such as these indicates that the sick man of Asia is nearing full recovery,” he added.
Gatchalian was referring to the Best Countries 2018 report, a comprehensive ranking released by U.S. News & World Report in cooperation with Y&R’s BAV Group and the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Under the Best Country to Invest In category, the Philippines earned the top score among 80 countries.
According to the U.S. News website, the ranking was generated from the input of more than 6,000 “business decision makers,” who scored their perceptions of each country regarding eight attributes: “corrupt, dynamic, economically stable, entrepreneurial, favorable tax environment, innovative, skilled labor force and technological expertise.”
Gatchalian, who is also chairman of the Senate energy committee, expressed optimism that the economic policies of the Duterte administration would “keep our economy moving in the right direction” – especially the government’s P9-trillion “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
He described the program as a “crucial driving force” in strengthening the country’s investment climate.
He also stated that the committee has already begun deliberations on measures to further boost foreign direct investment in the country.
One such bill is Senate Bill No. 1639, principally authored by Gatchalian, which seeks to remove barriers to entry for foreign firms hoping to invest in the domestic retail trade sector.
“We have to make the most out of this opportunity to really kick foreign direct investment into overdrive by implementing the proper legal reforms,” Gatchalian said.