House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. said an effective legal system in the country would attract investors and promote inclusive growth in the country.
“Clearly, the proper functioning of our country’s legal system is strongly linked to matters of good governance and economic growth,” Belmonte said in his speech before the members of the Philippine Bar Association.
Belmonte cited Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, in her 2007 paper titled “Justice and the Cost of Doing Business”, where the latter said the effective functioning of the judicial system has significant implications on the growth of the economy and on foreign investments.
In her paper, Sereno also pointed out that governance problems were at least as important as economic or financial problems in doing business. “Moreover, difficulties in settling legal conflicts were deemed of greater concern by responding businessmen than poor, physical infrastructure and access to credit,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte nonetheless said the country is on the right track now and “in better shape today than it was four or five years ago.”
The economy, for instance, has registered higher growth rates averaging at around 6.3 percent annually. The country has also improved its ranking in various global competitiveness report cards and has been given an investment grade credit rating.
“However, we still have much to do to eradicate poverty in our country. We need to make economic growth more inclusive, to create more and better jobs for our people, raise their income and enhance their living conditions. We need more investments and business activities to absorb our growing labor force,” the speaker said.
On the Asean integration, Belmonte said it was essential that the Philippines continue working toward a legal environment that is conducive to attracting investments and enhancing competitiveness.
“The existing legal framework may not be sufficient for the region to achieve a completely free exchange of goods and services,” he pointed out.