Philippine chamber opposes retaining telcos, transpo and power firms as utilities

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2021 03:24 PM

MANILA - The Philippines’ biggest business group on Wednesday said it “strongly” opposes reclassifying the transport, telecommunications and power generation industries as public utilities.

As the Senate deliberates on the proposed amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), which will redefine utilities, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it supports moves to open these industries to foreign players by not classifying them as utilities. 

“There has never been a time when we need more foreign direct investments (FDI) such as now as we work towards the common objectives of recovery and sustainable progress,” 

Under the Constitution, public utilities need to have 60 percent Filipino ownership. Various business groups have said this has impeded investment in these industries and affected competition and quality of service. 

“Our position on transport and telecom has been affirmed by the results from many consultations among exporters, manufacturers, SMEs and other business stakeholders who all had strongly clamored for this reform,” PCCI said. 

A senator had earlier warned that allowing foreigners to own 100 percent of telcos and power firms may affect the country's sovereignty.

PCCI said it knows the security and foreign influence concerns of Congress in crafting the law, but said these were not "irremediable."

"Congress may undertake safeguard measures and strengthen governmental institutions to ensure that our sovereign interests shall be upheld."

Business groups have said that opening up telecoms, power and transport to foreign players will attract more foreign investments into these sectors and improve service. 

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