Local and foreign business groups on Tuesday hailed the signing of two landmark laws—the Philippine Competition Act and the amended Cabotage Law—which are expected to boost the competitiveness of Philippine enterprises and help sustain economic growth.
Alfredo M. Yao, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc., said the laws would ultimately benefit consumers because they would be able to get “better services, better quality of products and better pricing.”
“The impact won’t be felt overnight but it will no longer be a long shot for companies, small or big, to compete fairly within the same (arena). Everyone is given a chance,” Yao said.
He said the amendments to the Cabotage Law would pave the way for lower shipping costs.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (ECCP) said both laws would form part of the Aquino administration’s legacy as the government would be able to create a more level playing field and offer cost reductions in domestic shipping.
“Both measures will benefit the Filipino consumer who potentially gets better goods and services at a better price,” said Henry J. Schumacher, ECCP vice president for external affairs.
John D. Forbes, senior advisor at the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said the laws “support Philippine integration with global best practice and in the long run should bring down the costs of goods and services, either through lower costs of imports and exports moved by foreign ships, or sanctions on firms that conspire against the best interest of consumers.”
The passage of the laws “will encourage the growth of SMEs and is in line with the Asean integration. What is important is the selection of people who will be in the [Philippine Competition] Commission. They should be fair and honest and strong,” said Francisco F. del Rosario Jr., president of the Management Association of the Philippines.
Peter V. Perfecto, Makati Business Club executive director, said the key to the effectiveness of the law would be the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“The different stakeholders, including the private sector, must get involved in this process and must ensure that the IRR is finalized immediately,” he said.
Choose right people
Francis Lim, former president of the Philippine Stock Exchange and managing partner of Accra Law, said the Competition Act “strikes a delicate balance between the need to promote fair competition and level playing field in the market and the need of our businesses to respond to international competition.”
He said the next challenge for President Aquino was to choose the right people to wield the vast powers and discharge the responsibilities under the law.
“The appointees [to the competition commission] must not only be morally upright and technically competent but must be able to strike that delicate balance, which was an overriding consideration during congressional deliberations,” Lim said.
The Competition Act will benefit young people, according to National Youth Commission Chair Gio Tingson.
“The law will protect small players and start-ups. It will encourage more young people to get into business and explore innovations. A fair market will create inclusion,” he said.