Corruption still a huge hurdle for businesses in the PH?
While our stories on Epson setting up a major plant in the Philippines and over 200 Japan companies looking at relocating from China to our country got a lot of positive comments from our readers, we also got a barrage of negative private messages from various businessmen. It was actually a rather surreal experience for us at Unbox. On one hand we see a lot of people happy about the news but on the other side we have more cautious and frustrated veterans in business. With the promise of keeping them anonymous we interviewed several of them and they all have one major gripe that they feel will make life hard for Epson and the 200+ Japanese companies — Corruption.
Forced to Pay Bribes to Get Things Going?
The inefficiency in infrastructure apparently opens up a lot of opportunities for corrupt officials to ask for bribe money. According to several of our interviewees, when businesses need to transfer their products across the country they experience massive slow downs unless they fork out money to get things moving. They also claimed that they need to pay off a lot of people in Customs and BIR.
“Daan na matuwid is a total fallacy. Concocted by PR of this administration. We pay more bribes now than ever before.”
Modernization and Technology Upgrade a Solution?
Transparency and automation has always been one of the best ways to solve corruption. And this is the reason why several interviewees were also disappointed when they heard that the modernization program of Customs was scrapped a few days ago by the newly installed commissioner Bert Lina.
Commissioner Lina, in an interview with Karen Davila, explained that there was a solution that was much cheaper. He also stated that the committee looking into the modernization program prior to him being appointed was the one that made the recommendation to cancel the awarding of the contract to the company that won the bid.
Watch the full interview below.
Our take on it? If this move will really save us money, then sure go ahead. But we need to see a timeline on when this program will actually get to see the light of day. This has been dragging on for too long already.
An interesting comment that we got from one of our interviewees who owns a retail chain was this:
“One reason why BPO and call centers are flourishing in the PH is that they don’t have to go through Customs!!! Kung pwede lang ba i-email mga produkto namin eh!”
Our recommendation to him? Try to figure out e-commerce! Cash on Delivery, hehe. Seriously though, he has a point there. Good food for thought.
Federalism Another Solution?
Another proposed solution by our interviewees was to shift the government system to Federalism. By unclogging and decentralising Metro Manila the government will be able to develop other cities and provinces. Budgets will no longer be centralised and businesses can flourish better in different parts of the country since they will have better infrastructure thanks to the properly spread budget.
There is actually a chance of this happening since one presidential contender, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, is an advocate of Federalism.
Let’s Keep the Conversation Going
There are definitely a lot of problems and hurdles that have yet to be overcome by the government so that we have a more stable and transparent landscape for business. The good news is that people are talking about this more and more. This is the reason why the 2016 Presidential Elections is critical. Whoever we put in charge of the government will have to face these issues head on. This is the time to closely scrutinize the platforms of those seeking the presidency.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a technology / IT forum featuring all the Presidentiables?
So yes folks, don’t forget to register for the upcoming elections. Make sure you study the candidates who are running. Finally, vote wisely and let’s try to get this country moving towards the right direction so that we here in Unbox get to write more stories about tech companies moving from China and other parts of the world to the Philippines.
IMPORTANT NOTE: We are not business experts or analysts. We just wanted to share some of our thoughts and observations after talking to several businessmen who PM’d us after we wrote the stories on Epson and the Japan 200. 🙂