The country’s chief economist is pushing for Congress’ approval of the bills aimed at further opening up the economy to bolster not only foreign investments but also economic growth.
“We are urging Congress to pass critical reforms such as the amendments to the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investment Act and the Retail Trade Act to encourage investments in industry and services, and boost private construction. That would have a significant contribution to the economy,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a statement late Friday.
For one, pending amendments to the antiquated Public Service Act under Commonwealth Act No. 146 wanted to limit “public utilities” to the following activities: electricity distribution and transmission, and water works and sewerage systems.
Pernia, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, earlier said that redefining public utilities would eventually allow foreign companies to own up to 100 percent of local telecommunications ventures, hence open up competition and improve telco services.
Amendments to the foreign investment and retail laws would also allow wider participation among foreigners to further promote competition in the domestic market and generate more job-generating investments.
Pernia had said that the 11th Foreign Investment Negative List issued by President Duterte last year contained liberalization measures that were only “marginal improvements” and more could be done by amending restrictive economic laws.
Also, Pernia said that during last Friday’s meeting of the Economic Development Cluster, the interagency body again endorsed for the President’s signature the Philippine Export Development Plan 2018-2022.
Citing a report of the Export Development Council, Pernia said merchandise exports, which have been on a downtrend lately, were expected to grow by 6.1 percent this year—4 percent for goods, and 9 percent for services.