JFC backs relaxation of ownership rules for finance firms

By Louella D. Desiderio, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 24 2015 07:26 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2015 03:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign business groups support a proposed measure seeking to relax ownership restrictions in laws for lending and financing companies as well as investment houses in the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL), citing that such would facilitate the entry of more investments here.

“The JFC (Joint Foreign Chambers) expresses support for House Bill (HB) 5544, removing or amending investment restrictions in specific laws governing adjustment companies, lending companies, financing companies and investment houses in the FINL filed by Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao,” the JFC said in a letter dated March 17 to Las Piñas City Representative Mark Villar who is also chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry.

The groups said the enactment of the proposed measure would pave the way for an important reform of the FINL which has barely changed despite being reissued every two years.

Introduced in 1991, the FINL identifies investment areas or activities which may be opened to foreigners and those reserved to Filipino nationals.

Executive Order 98 containing the Ninth FINL issued by President Aquino in 2012 had no substantial change in the list.

For almost two decades, the only substantive changes in the FINL was allowing limited foreign investment in the retail trade in 2000 and the opening in 2010 of gambling of casinos to majority foreign equity.

The JFC said the passage of the proposed measure into law would further demonstrate the leadership of the House of Representatives in liberalizing restrictive laws which are seen to hinder the growth of the economy.

“Considering the very limited time left in the 16th Congress, we request your support by conducting a public hearing on HB 5544 to facilitate the entry of investments through foreign equity and trade liberalization,” the JFC added.

The JFC is a coalition of American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese and Korean Chambers in the Philippines and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Headquarters Inc.

The JFC represents over 3,000 member companies engaged in over $230 billion worth of trade and some $30 billion worth of investments in the country.

The groups supports and promotes open international trade, increased foreign investment and improved conditions to benefit the Philippines as well as the countries their member firms represent.

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