(STAR) By Des Ferriols Thursday, September 27, 2007 The national average inflation rate is seen at 2.1 percent to 2.8 percent in September with the strength of the peso against the dollar keeping domestic prices broadly stable.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said yesterday that the September inflation rate is expected to be favorable, reflecting the expected leveling off in inflationary pressures.

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said that the central bank noted increases in the prices of major commodities such as rice and fuel.

However, Tetangco said the prices of other fresh food items offset these increases, supported by the peso which remained firm throughout the period despite momentary fluctuations.

“Overall, the inflation environment continues to be favorable,” Tetangco said.

In August, the national average inflation rate slowed down to 2.4 percent as prices of basic commodities decelerated compared to prices last year when the inflation rate was recorded at 6.3 percent.

The projected inflation in September would fall within the BSP’s expected range for 2007 of 2.3 percent to 3.2 percent. At this level, the year-to-date average would fall well within this range and considerably below the inflation target of four to five percent.

Tetangco said the nationwide inflation rate would remain broadly benign, as he expressed confidence that even the shift in foreign exchange rate would not cause a sudden rise in liquidity.

RP rank slips in WB survey By Ted P. Torres Thursday, September 27, 2007

(STAR) The Philippines has remained among the world’s most unattractive economies for doing business, a study undertaken by the World Bank and the International Finance Corp. (IFC) showed.

The Philippines ranked 133rd — and among the lowest in the East Asian region — slipping from 120th in 2005 and 130th last year.

In contrast, ASEAN neighbor Singapore topped the list as most attractive economy worldwide for the second consecutive year. (See B-12)

Doing better than the Philippines in most of the region are Hong Kong (ranked fourth), Thailand (15th), Malaysia (24th), Brunei (78th), China (83rd), Vietnam (91th) and Indonesia (123rd).

World Bank specialist Justin Yap explained that the Philippines did not or has not implemented any reforms “and clearly, if a country stops to reform it will be left behind.”

“There is a lot of slippage in the Philippines against the already slow reforming Asia Pacific region. The Philippines is one of the slow performing economies. There are no areas or categories where the Philippines made any significant changes,” he added.

Yap also noted that most of the Central and Eastern European countries have been fairing well in implementing reforms and attracting new businesses.

In fact, the East Asian region has fared poorly in terms of implementing policy reforms against other regions.

IFC acting country manager Jesse Ang urged the Philippines to continue implementing policy reforms if it hopes to remain competitive in both regional and the global markets.

“The Philippines can still lower the cost of doing business from the starting process especially the property issue and access of credit for new businesses,” Ang said.

World Bank private sector development specialist Kim S. Jacinto-Henares pointed out that the rating of the Philippine economy has been slipping in the past three years.

However, Henares admitted that there had been efforts by the Philippine government to start policy reforms to improve the business environment in the country Philippines.

“There has been several policy reforms that have been implemented, and there are several policy reforms in the pipeline,” Henares, a former official of the Bureau of the Internal Revenue (BIR), said.

She made it clear that for the country to catch up with the rest of the global economy, it must pass and implement fiscal and policy reforms that are still in the pipeline.

Among these pipeline policy reforms are the credit information system bill, the land administration and reform act (LARA) bill, anti-red tape law, the Philippine Business Registry, the one-time tax transaction project of the BIR, the LEDAC priority bill, the x-ray machines for import/export inspection,

the Batangas-Clark-Subic Logistical Corridor, the anti-trust bill, the judicial reform support project, the national program support for tax administration reform, and the specialized commercial courts.

Under the category of countries with the most procedures to start a business, the Philippines topped the list. Incontrast, the economies that have the least number of procedures include Laos, Mongolia, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

It also takes 58 days to get business licenses in the Philippines which, again, was among the worst performers. Australia ranked best with just two days, Malaysia with 24 days, Vietnam with 50, while Indonesia ranked last with 105 days.

The cost of doing business in the Philippines reached 26.8 percent of per capita income second worst behind Cambodia.

In terms of protecting the legal rights of investors, the Philippines was ranked 10th ‘worst’ among 13 Asian economies covered by the World Bank study.

Only Laos, Timos-Leste, and Cambodia were ranked lower than the Philippines

The annual study covers the general areas of starting business, dealing with licenses, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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