MANILA, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Fostering fair market competition in key sectors including electricity, telecommunications, and transport, can improve services and generate higher-paying jobs in the Philippines, accelerating poverty reduction, says a new World Bank study released on Monday.
"The government of the Philippines has adopted key reforms to foster competition and limit state participation in sectors where private participation is typically possible and economically viable," said Graciela Miralles Murciego, senior economist and lead author of the report.
"But slow implementation continues to hinder the potential benefits of these reforms to consumers, keeping prices high and choices limited."
Removing overly restrictive regulations and unequal and discretionary application of policies could improve productivity and add at least 0.2 percentage points to Philippine's growth every year, the study says.
"Sustaining our growth through the reform of many highly distortive government policies will be the country's key policy challenge in the coming years," Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said.
He added the study "provides useful insight to the Commission's work of advocating pro-competitive government policies and interventions - one of the main thrusts of the proposed National Competition Policy."
Data show that the Philippine economy is more concentrated than other economies in the region, with a higher proportion of monopoly, duopoly, and oligopoly markets.
While concentration might naturally result from the market conditions, data show these structures can be more prone to collusion and abuse of market power - abetted by a plethora of restrictive regulations and other restrictions.
These restrictions include state ownership and involvement in business operations; complex regulatory procedures and administrative burdens on start-ups; as well as barriers to trade and investments, including foreign equity investments.
"Ensuring that government policies and regulations do not create barriers to entry or distort the playing field is necessary to enhance private participation and unlock more investment opportunities for all businesses big and small," said Mara Warwick, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
"The Philippines needs an even more competitive and vibrant private sector to generate the types of jobs and economic opportunities that can lift more people out of poverty, at a similar pace to its neighbors in East Asia," she added.
The study aims to identify existing regulatory constraints to competition in key sectors, and in the economy as a whole, to help the National Economic and Development Authority and Philippine Competition Commission forge an effective competition policy.