PH a fourth-world country?

By Francis Lim
19 October 2017  |   Philippine Daily Inquirer

The new president and chief executive of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), Ramon S. Monzon, was the guest speaker in the recent annual general membership meeting of the Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines (SharePHIL).

In the course of discussing his vision for the PSE, Monzon presented data which caught the ears and eyes of members.

According to Monzon, the PSE is “one of the oldest bourses in Asia” but now pales in comparison to much younger exchanges in the Asean region based on data as of the end of August 2017.

The PSE only has 269 listed companies compared to Bursa Malaysia (901), Singapore Exchange (753), Stock Exchange of Thailand (667), Indonesian Stock Exchange (555), Hanoi Stock Exchange (379) and Ho Chi Minh Exchange (340).

In terms of average daily value turnover, the PSE only trades $138.2 million compared to the Stock Exchange of Thailand ($1.2 billion), Singapore Exchange ($864.8 million), Bursa Malaysia ($530.9 million), Indonesian Stock Exchange ($394.6 million) and Ho Chi Minh Exchange ($147.05 million).

In terms of capital raised for listed companies, the PSE only raised $2.7 billion compared to Singapore Exchange ($5.3 billion), Indonesian Stock Exchange ($3.74 billion), Bursa Malaysia ($3.6 billion), Ho Minh Exchange ($3.35 billion), and Stock Exchange of Thailand ($3.31 billion).

The findings did not surprise me as I saw similar data during my stint as PSE president from 2004 to 2010.

What surprised me, however, was the data on Vietnam. During my PSE days, the only exchange in Vietnam was the Ho Chi Minh Exchange (HOSE). Now they also have the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) which, according to Monzon, is being planned to be merged with the HNX.

But even if considered separately, HOSE and HNX have already overtaken the PSE on several aspects. For example, HNX has 379 listed companies and HOSE has 340 listed companies, while PSE has 269. Likewise, HOSE has $147.05 million in average daily value turnover compared to PSE’s $138.2 million. It has also raised capital for its listed companies to the tune of $3.35 billion compared to the $2.7 billion raised through the PSE.

This, indeed, is a surprise to me because I distinctly recall having hosted employees from the HOSE during my early days in the PSE and trained them on the basics of listing and disclosure.

Whereas, this is the Philippine story: We were “first” in many areas. We were “once a model of development” and “one of Asia’s industrial powerhouses” and the “second most progressive country in southeast Asia.”

Over the years, however, our neighbors have outgrown us by leaps and bounds. The cases of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand were oft-repeated stories. They have consistently undertaken vast economic reforms to the benefit of their people.

Meanwhile, we have been shooting ourselves in the foot almost every step of the way. We simply cannot get our acts together. Unless we do so quickly, we will eternally remain a third world economy and run the risk of being marginalized and relegated to a fourth world country.

God forbid!

The author, formerly president and chief executive officer of the Philippine Stock Exchange, is now a senior partner of the Angara Abello Concepcion & Regala Law Offices and president of the Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines. The views in this column are exclusively his. He can be contacted through

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