Duterte asks Senate to pass foreign investment, retail trade bills

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2019 10:31 PM | Updated as of Jun 03 2019 11:56 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday asked the Senate to immediately pass three bills, which he said were needed to spur the country's economic growth. 

In a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Duterte called for the "immediate enactment" of amendments to the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act. 

Duterte said the measures were needed to "provide a more conducive investment climate, increase job opportunities, foster more competition and further spur the country's economic growth."

The Senate formally adjourns sessions on June 7, Friday. 

Amending the Public Services Act is needed to ease the entry of the third major telecommunications player in the country.

The measure narrows down the definition of "public utilities" to the transmission and distribution of electricity, and waterworks and sewerage systems. 

This will lift foreign equity restrictions on telecommunications firms, which are currently capped at 40 percent. 

Mislatel, which the government chose as the third major telco player, is a consortium made up of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp and China Telecom.  

The amendment to the Foreign Investments Act (FIA), meanwhile, is expected to attract more foreign investors by reducing the number of direct local hires required.

Businesses with a paid-in capital of $100,000 will be required to have only 15 direct local hires instead of the current 50. 

It also excludes the "practice of professions" from the coverage of the FIA. This is meant to attract foreign professionals to come to the country and "to attract businesses requiring highly skilled professionals."

The amendment to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act is seen as attracting more foreign investors into the retail trade sector. 

Foreign businessmen have been lobbying for the measure to allow smaller brands to enter the Philippine retail market.  

- With a report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News