Asian Development Bank Loan to Boost Healthy Business Competition in the Philippines

The Philippine government wants to create a vibrant, fair, and efficient market competition environment that will help it attain its goal of reaching upper middle-income status by 2022. (ADB Photo)

Manila, Philippines — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $23.3 million loan to help the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) enforce the country’s 2015 Philippine Competition Act (PCA) by boosting skills and competencies of PCC staff and those from other government agencies with competition-related mandates.

“ADB’s support aims to help the Philippines eliminate barriers to business entry and anti-competitive practices in many sectors of the economy, which affects prices for consumers,” said the Director for Public Management, Financial Sector, and Trade at ADB’s Southeast Asia Regional Department Mr. Jose Antonio Tan III. “By fostering better enforcement of the competition law, this project will also help the government sustain economic growth in the Philippines, which, at an average of 6.3% annually from 2010 to 2018, is among the fastest in Southeast Asia.”

The project is in line with the government’s vision to create a vibrant, fair, and efficient market competition environment that will help the Philippines attain its goal of reaching upper middle-income status by 2022. Under its medium-term Philippine Development Plan 2017–2022, the government “seeks to enhance market competition by fostering an environment that penalizes anti-competitive practices, facilitates entry of players, and supports regulatory reforms to stimulate investments and innovation.”

The Capacity Building to Foster Competition Project builds on ADB’s assistance to the Philippines since 2016, when the government formed the PCC, the quasi-judicial body tasked to enforce and implement the PCA. ADB has provided technical assistance to PCC since its establishment, including staff training on international best practices to investigate, stop and prevent anti-competitive practices.

Under this new project, ADB will help build the capacity of PCC and other government agencies mandated to enforce the PCA. The project will provide government staff with opportunities to further their education and skills relevant to competition law and economics, including through non-degree programs, short-term courses, distance learning courses, secondments, and scholarships for degree programs.

Other agencies with competition-related mandates include the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Justice, and the Office of the Solicitor General.

The project will also help establish an academic center of excellence in competition law and policy at the University of the Philippines to expand the number of local experts on antitrust, competition policy, as well as research and advocacy, and achieve a healthy civil discourse and greater awareness on best practices.

“This innovative project will help strengthen the Philippine government’s institutional and individual capacities to effectively implement the competition law in order to expand consumers’ access to goods and services at lower prices, and help businesses improve product quality through innovation,” said ADB Principal Country Specialist for the Philippines Ms. Cristina Lozano.

The Philippines has substantially improved its enforcement of the competition law. In 2018, the Philippines climbed three notches to 5th place out of 10 most active countries in Asia and the Pacific in antitrust enforcement and policy, according to the findings of the 2019 Global Trends Monitor published by the global competition news and analysis company PaRR.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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