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  Tuesday, 06 August 2013  

IN FOCUS: Competition Policy

Competition is a touchy subject in the developing world. In the Philippines, the unvarnished truth is that there is hardly a culture of competition. Protectionist tendencies, often with political backing, are powerful enough to block the entry of other economic players—local or foreign. Even in the domestic market, there is a raft of anticompetitive practices that make it doubly harder for new entrants to penetrate retail channels. Regulatory capture exacerbates market failures so there is a need to improve the regulatory regime. This may be addressed by having a competition policy framework that has appropriate regulation as a subset.

Resistance to competition persists mainly because its benefits are not fully understood by stakeholders, in particular consumers and businesses.  As PIDS Vice-President Rafaelita Aldaba notes, the Philippines has been left outside the league of East Asian successes due to lack of investments, which, in turn could be attributed to weak competition. Local players have shied away from making additional investments due to poor governance and regulatory mechanisms and other factors like inadequate infrastructure. A PIDS study has found evidence of moderately to highly widespread incidence of unfair trade practices, a clear reflection of anticompetitive behavior. Unfortunately, aggrieved parties are often hesitant to pursue legal remedies due to gaps in legal mechanisms. The area of consumer protection is where competition reforms could bear much fruit.

PIDS has long taken the lead in the advocacy for the enactment of comprehensive competition laws as well as the adoption of a national competition policy. In the early 2000s, it embarked on a research project under the Philippine APEC Study Center Network to study the state of competition and the reforms that have been undertaken in selected industries where competition appears to be crucial: manufacturing, cement, oil, telecommunications, air transport, and banking and insurance. Over the years, the Institute, through its trade specialists such as Senior Research Fellow Erlinda M. Medalla, has continued its policy research work on competition reforms.

Check out PIDS research on competition law and competition policy. Know more about the prevalence of unfair trade practices in the country, competition and infrastructure regulation, and the state of competition in the different economic sectors. Recently, PIDS was tapped to join the “Competition Reforms in Key Markets for Enhancing Social and Economic Welfare in Developing Countries” or CREW Project spearheaded by India’s Consumer Union and Trust Society (CUTS) International, an undertaking that is expected to raise and sustain public support for much-needed competition reforms.

You may access these studies via the SocioEconomic Research Portal for the Philippines by simply typing ‘competition policy’ in the Search box.

    1. Perceptions and Laws on Unfair Trade Practices in the Philippines
    2. Unfair Trade Practices in the Philippines
    3. Trade Liberalization and Trade Performance in Asia: 1974-2008
    4. Interface Between Competition Policy and Infrastructure Regulation in the Philippines
    5. State of Competition in the Wholesale and Retail Sector
    6. Toward a National Competition Policy for the Philippines
    7. Competition: What Is It All About? (First of two parts)
    8. Competition Policy: Why Does It Matter? (Second of two parts)






DP No. 2013-40: Multisector Strategy in Addressing Noncommunicable Diseases in the Philippines
by Valerie Gilbert T. Ulep, Melanie Aldeon, and Nina Ashley dela Cruz

This report is a continuation of the PIDS discussion paper titled "Inequalities in Noncommunicable Diseases in the Philippines". It focuses on strategies for prevention and control of potential noncommunicable diseases (NCD) of the Department of Health (DOH), with wider multisector involvement. This report is divided into five chapters. Chapters I and II discuss the status of noncommunicable diseases and DOH policies and programs. Chapter III introduces a potential roadmap for the NCD prevention and control program of the DOH. Chapter IV defines the roles and responsibilities of different bureaus within the health sector. Chapter V outlines the potential framework of the multisector strategy of the DOH. Click here for the full article.



DP No. 2013-39: Agriculture, Rural Employment, and Inclusive Growth
by Roehlano M. Briones
This paper argues that the development of the rural economy is a key factor to achieving inclusive growth--one that creates jobs, draws the majority into the economic and social mainstream, and continuously reduces mass poverty. Employment conditions in Philippine rural labor markets and agriculture can be characterized as casual or informal, with low skill requirements, with low productivity and returns, and a greater concentration of poverty. This is consistent with a prominent strand of development literature that posits a traditional sector mostly located in rural areas and highly dependent on agricultural livelihood. The evidence suggests that the agricultural and rural economy should be at the forefront, rather than the periphery, of the country`s strategy for quality employment generation. Such a strategy completes an unfinished reform agenda for sustained development of the rural economy. It involves the swift completion of the land reform program. Click here for the full article.



DP No. 2013-38: An Assessment of the Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment Package Provided by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation
by Issa Reyes-Lao
Recent data show that while other countries have shown a decrease in the incidence rate of HIV/AIDS, the Philippines has experienced a 25 percent increase in incidence of HIV infection. While people living with HIV/AIDS account for less than one percent of the population, the country is clearly falling behind in attaining the Millennium Development Goal for this disease. Moreover, it is still evident that Filipinos continue to experience inequity and unequal access to health services for HIV/AIDS even with different interventions already in place. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) launched the Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment (OHAT) package in 2010 to improve accessibility and affordability of HIV/AIDS treatment. Three years hence and amid continued growth in the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS, an assessment was conducted, looking into issues that hinder the utilization of the package. Results show that there is a need to enhance the OHAT package, as it is not fully utilized despite the increasing number of people living with HIV/AIDS who are in need of treatment. Click here for the full article.



DP No. 2013-37: Factors Influencing PhilHealth Coverage and In-patient Benefit Utilization of Filipino Children under Five
by Maria Elizabeth Angeline D. Puyat
According to the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), children under five are more likely to use in-patient care than other age groups. These children are not only more vulnerable to getting sick, but are also at risk of incurring high health expenditures if they are without health insurance. Using the 2008 NDHS dataset, this study focused on the coverage and in-patient benefit utilization of children under five and who are dependents of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). Unique to this analysis was the shift in focus of coverage and utilization to the dependents, from the traditional angle of primary members. Click here for the full article.



DP No. 2013-36: Performance of DOH-Retained Hospitals in the Philippines
by Honey Loveleen R. Bontile
The national government has been aiming at the provision of essential health services that are accessible, affordable, and equitable. As a result of decentralization following the passage of the Local Government Code of 1991, the DOH retained 45 hospitals nationwide. In 2011, 21 renationalized and four new hospitals were added to the list, excluding drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers. Fifty-one hospitals were classified as general, and 19 as specialty, hospitals. Aside from accessibility, people seek quality health care when getting medical attention, while health service providers use quality care to increase their market share. However, the perception of quality differs between patients and health providers. An assessment of the 2011 hospital performance during the first year of implementation of the government’s universal health care or Kalusugan Pangkalahatan thrust is beneficial. The study focused its analysis on the 51 general DOH hospitals, with data from annual hospital statistics reports. Click here for the full article.



DP No. 2013-35: Epidemiological Assessment of Fires in the Philippines, 2010-2012
by Gloria Nenita V. Velasco

Fires are the most costly preventable emergency in the Philippines but are relatively unstudied. A 2012 study done by the Department of Health-Health Emergency Management Staff (DOH-HEMS) revealed that fires accounted for 39 percent of all events reported to the Health Emergency Alert Reporting System (HEARS) from 2005 to 2009, and caused 263 deaths and 749 injuries. The epidemiology of fires and fire-related casualties in the Philippines from 2010 to 2012 was assessed. All fires reported in the HEARS of the DOH-HEMS during that period were included in the study. There is a need to review present local and national efforts at fire prevention and control. Further research and analysis of causes and determinants of fires will provide more useful information for fire prevention policy and planning in the Philippines. Click here for the full article.




EID 2013 No. 2: The ASEAN Economic Community
by Felipe F. Salvosa II  

In 2015, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will reach a milestone. The regional group will become an ASEAN Community, standing on three pillars: the ASEAN Political and Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community or AEC, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. AEC will be the culmination of years of efforts to integrate the regional economy. The goal is to transform ASEAN into a single market and production base. ASEAN is envisioned as a regional economy with efficient production networks and high-quality cross-border services. Under the AEC vision, goods, investments, and capital flow freely, but growth is inclusive, with small and medium enterprises thriving despite competition. Click here for the full article.





Extension needed for poor to outgrow CCT program, says PIDS experts

Extending the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps beyond five years for current beneficiaries is needed to allow the poor to “outgrow” the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. This was emphasized by experts from the state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in a forum last July 31.

The resource speaker, PIDS Visiting Research Fellow Vicente Paqueo, noted that the ‘Pantawid’ extension will be economically and socially beneficial and will also give the government more time to work out a transition strategy and pursue policy reforms that will lead to a massive expansion of job opportunities for beneficiaries. Read more



Competition policies needed ASAP, forum notes

Competition policy reforms should be in place to level the playing field and prevent powerful interest groups and individuals from controlling the market.

In a forum organized by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) with the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International based in Jaipur, India, and the Action for Economic Reforms (AER), Department of Justice Assistant Secretary and Head of the Office for Competition Geronimo Sy confirmed the anti-competitive practices of powerful Filipino businessmen. Read more



22nd PIDS Corner launched in Western Mindanao State University

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) inaugurated its 22nd PIDS Corner at the main library of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) in Zamboanga City on July 9, 2013.

The PIDS Corner is the Institute's knowledge dissemination strategy aimed at making its research outputs more visible and accessible in the provinces. The PIDS Corner has shelves containing various studies and publications produced by PIDS throughout the years. Read more







Peso-Dollar Exchange Rate
The monthly average peso-dollar exchange rate went up for three consecutive months, reaching 42.9069PHP to the US dollar in June, the highest monthly average exchange rate since January last year.

For the time-series monthly data on exchange rates, please refer to this link:

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)



Gross international reserves (GIR) stood at US$81.6 billion as of end-June 2013, slightly lower by US$0.4 billion than the end-May 2013 GIR of US$82 billion. According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, reserves remain adequate to cover 11.8 months worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income.

For the latest monthly data on GIR, please refer to this link : http://econdb.pids.gov.ph/tablelists/table/181

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)





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