Raising the productivity and competitiveness of PHL enterprises
Business Mirror
May 24, 2016

STRATEGY 3 of the Philippine Export Development Plan 2015-2017 is raising the productivity and competitiveness of Philippine enterprises. Concerted efforts from government agencies, like the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Competitiveness Bureau of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and other relevant agencies and stakeholders are aligning their plans and programs to implement this strategy.

To put flesh into its implementation, the following interventions were considered: (1) tighten the link between pay and productivity through enterprise-based wage setting and implementation of productivity-based scheme; (2) promote legitimate arrangements, such as flexible-work schedules, telecommuting, compressed workweeks, job sharing and subcontracting; (3) strengthen the tripartite mechanisms and social dialogues to improve work conditions; (4) improve the efficiency of infrastructure services, particularly energy, logistics, transportation and communications through continuous regulatory reforms; (5) mandate concerned regulatory agencies to craft and implement competition policy for their sector; and (6) implement the Philippine Competition Act to curb and prevent anticompetitive practices to increase business confidence and inspire greater investments.

Enhanced labor productivity

The DOLE has developed a wage system where minimum wage, as a safety net, is set through a tripartite process. Wages above the minimum based on productivity are set through industry and enterprise collective bargaining or negotiations. ?Thus, a two-tiered wage-system approach was introduced to set up the minimum wage and to promote productivity and improvement. It consists of a mandatory minimum wage order (Tier 1) issued through a wage order by the Regional Tripartite Wages and ?Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) and a voluntary productivity-based incentive scheme (Tier 2) for which the RTWPBs issue advisories to guide workers and enterprises in developing such schemes. Tier 2 is a strategy toward tightening the link between performance and compensation, and thereby, translating productivity into wage gains for workers.

The DOLE?s Bureau of Working Conditions has been advocating alternative-work arrangements through the issuance of department advisories that assist and guide employers and employees who opt to adopt a mutually acceptable compressed workweek suitable to the requirement of the businesses.

To further improve labor productivity, the National Wages and Productivity Commission of DOLE implements the Productivity Toolbox, a ladderized, needs-based package of interventions designed to assist and capacitate workers and enterprises, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises in productivity improvement. It contains training modules, technical assistance on work improvement measurements (time and motion studies) and an award system that recognizes best productivity. ?Entrepreneurs also receive trainings from the Bureau of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development of the DTI through its Roving Academy and one-on-one mentoring through the Negosyo Centers.

The country has been recognized for its labor-relations environment that fosters strong tripartite mechanisms and processes for social dialogue. However, we are still fettered with old policies, like the Labor Code, which has been long overdue for a legislative overhaul. In the meantime, the Bureau of Labor Relations of the DOLE continues to engage tripartite partners in formulating or amending policies affecting workers and employers, conduct of area-wide labor dialogues, as well as empowerment of tripartite partners through labor education.

However, all of these measures will be too costly or a failure if in the beginning, the ?skills and talents of hired personnel are not matched with what the industry needs. ?As such, the government should invest in educating its employees. Hence, the challenge now is for the incoming administration to consider investing more in the improvement of skills and education. The government should follow the examples of South Korea and Singapore, which invested more in education to become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and finishing on top of the global competitiveness ranking.

Competitive logistics support

ANOTHER intervention for this strategy is improving the efficiency of infrastructure services, particularly energy, logistics, transportation and communications through continuous reforms that will enhance the competitiveness of Philippine exports.

The EDC-Networking Committee on Transport and Logistics has identified programs that can help improve the efficiency of our country?s infrastructure services. These are Dual Airport Policy such as NAIA-Clark, lighting of secondary airports, creation of the National Transportation Safety Board Act; among others. In addition, a National Logistics Master Plan spearheaded by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) and US-AID Compete to advance Philippine competitiveness through an efficient logistics sector. ?This Master Plan will be vigorously implemented by the proposed Supply Chain and Logistics Advisory Council. ?To help address traffic and prevent a repeat of the port congestion the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS) is currently implemented by port operators in Manila. ?TABS is a collaborative solution of the Metro Manila Development Authority and supply-chain stakeholders in partnership with Australia?s One-Stop Connections Pty. Ltd.

To further reduce logistics costs in the domestic shipping, the efficiency of the roll on-roll off (RO-RO) network will be enhanced by the recent approval of Executive Order 240, expanding the RO-RO network policies to chassis RO-RO or simply CHARO. With CHARO, the cost of cargo handling will be lesser and it will allow truckers to be more productive since their trucks will not go with the container in the RO-RO vessels anymore. ?Further, export and import cargoes from and to local ports can no w be co-loaded by foreign ships under the newly approved implementing rules and regulations of the Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act or RA 10668. ?This will eliminate costs for the transfer of these foreign cargoes from international vessels in international ports to domestic inter-island vessels in local ports.

Air transport and logistics need the strengthening of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) as the airport and aviation regulatory authority, separating its operational from development functions

Competition policy

THE Philippine Competition Act (RA 10667) was one of the legislative agenda strongly advocated by the Export Development Council (EDC). The Act ensures fair competition among market players, prohibits abuse of dominant positions, cartels, price fixing during auctions or biddings, anti-competitive agreements and mergers and acquisitions that limit or control competition. Currently, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the ACT crafted by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) will be presented in a public hearing to gather comments and recommendations from relevant stakeholders prior to its full implementation.?

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