Despite positive developments in the economy, the Philippines slipped two more notches in its global ranking in the recent World Bank and IFC report, Doing Business 2013: Smarter Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises. The country ranked 138th among the 185 economies surveyed, down from 136 in 2012 and 134 in 2011.

According to the report, the ease of doing business still varies sharply among the economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). For example, in terms of the process for starting a business, the report states that in New Zealand, it requires only one procedure and one day and costs 0.4% of income per capita. In the Philippines, it takes 16 procedures and 36 days and costs 18.1% of income per capita.

The Aquino administration is also stepping up efforts to curb corruption. One of the targets of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by 2013 is to enable businesses to apply for certificates of registration electronically. The plan includes electronic issuance of documents, which is part of a US$54.3-million revenue administration reform initiative that aims to increase tax revenues and reduce corruption.

Laws on data privacy and cybercrime prevention are now in place, but not without controversy. The Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) remains steadfast that the industry will benefit from provisions covering system and data protection, device security, and penalties for computer-related offenses.

Aside from regulatory and legislative reforms, industry public-private partnerships (IPPPs) have been instrumental in fueling the growth of various IT-BPO sectors, particularly in the areas of talent, risk and cost. BPAP is working to achieve its 2016 goals of generating a total of 1.3 million direct jobs, US$25 billion in revenues, and ₱295 billion in taxes on wages.

What is the overall sentiment in the IT-BPO industry with regard to the Philippine investment climate? How do players view the business environment in terms of setting up or expanding operations in a country considered to be one of the world’s most preferred destinations for outsourcing?