Foreign business groups are pushing for a further easing of restrictions for foreign investors through amendments to the Constitution, and release of the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) every three years instead of two, to allow the country to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs).
In a statement submitted to the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs on the Foreign Investment Act, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) said it supports the continuation of the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) which identifies investment areas or activities which may be opened to foreigners and those reserved to Filipino nationals.
While JFC supports the continuation of the FINL, it is suggesting the list be issued every three years instead of two.
“This is in accord with our argument that legal and administrative regulation is more flexible than having restrictions on foreign equity in the Constitution itself. We recommend that the Congressional leadership and the Legislative Development Advisory Committee include among their legislative priorities further liberalization of existing restrictions,” the JFC said.
It said Congress could make the FINL less negative by initiating amendments to the Constitution.
JFC said Congress may also amend the laws listed in the FINL as what was done with the Retail Trade Act of 2000 and with RA 10881 which removes foreign equity restrictions on adjustment companies, lending companies, financing companies, and investment houses.
As the House of Representatives has passed a bill to amend the Public Services Act and the Senate is expected to consider its companion bill in plenary, and while bills amending the Retail Trade Act have been introduced in the 17th Congress, JFC said more liberalization reforms could even be introduced and considered in the next Congress.
JFC said Congress could also work on further easing restrictions through its oversight role, particularly by having resolutions and hearings.
It said Senate Resolution 73 or the resolution directing the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship and other appropriate committee/s to conduct an omnibus study and eventual updating, in aid of legislation, of the present Foreign Investments Act (RA 7042, as amended) considering the continuing emerging global trends in development with the intention of making the Philippines a competitive haven for investments and place of operation for multi- national companies, is an example.
“We are optimistic that, with further reforms such as those being discussed at this hearing, FDIs in the Philippines will grow to even higher levels than it currently has reached, contributing to the government’s goal of a seven to eight percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate,” JFC said.
JFC also said they are committed to working with the Congress to pass legislation for increased foreign investment in the country to create more jobs.
The JFC groups the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, Korean chambers, and Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc.
The groups represent over 3,000 member companies engaged in over $100 billion worth of trade in goods and services and some $30 billion investments in the Philippines.