MANILA - Lawmakers in the lower house of Congress have approved amendments to a law governing foreign investments in the Philippines.
The House of Representatives voted 201 to 6 on third reading on Monday to approve House Bill 300, which amends sections 4 and 8 of Republic Act 7042 or the Foreign Investments Act (FIA).
Under the proposal, foreigners may own small and medium-sized enterprises with a minimum paid-up capital of less than $100,000 if it involves advanced technology, or it employs at least 15 direct employees.
The measure is expected to attract more foreign investors, said House Committee on Trade and Industry chair Wes Gatchalian.
“Ownership limitations as well as paid-up capital requirements effectively prevent smaller foreign entities with insufficiently large investments to open businesses in the Philippines," Gatchalian said.
He said this forces foreign investors to partner with local firms.
The bill is also seen improving technology transfer, raising foreign exchange from exports and leading to higher tax revenues.
The practice of professions will also be excluded from the coverage of the Foreign Investment Negative List if the bill is signed.
This is meant to attract foreign professionals to come to the country and attract businesses requiring highly skilled professionals.
Foreign business groups earlier said they supported amendments to the FIA.
The Philippines has one of the most restrictive regulations on foreign investments in Asia, and lags its neighbors when it comes to foreign direct investments.
The FIA was last amended in 1996.
- Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News