Contractors oppose bill allowing foreign firms to enter PH construction industry

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2020 12:55 PM

Construction laborers work on the future store of Swedish furniture-maker IKEA in Pasay City on October 22, 2019. Demand is high for skilled laborers in construction locally yet vacancies remain due to low wages earned compared to working abroad, according to the Department of Labor and Employment. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A group of contractors on Sunday opposed a bill that would allow foreign firms to enter the local construction industry which employs more than 4 million Filipinos.

House Bill 7337, authored by Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian, seeks to revise the Contractors’ License Law by allowing "persons, regardless of nationality or citizenship, properly licensed and registered" to practice construction contracting.

The measure allows foreign firms to obtain a license originally exclusive to companies with at least 60 percent Filipino equity, according to Dino Suelto of the Davao Constructors Association, a regional group of the Philippine Constructors Association (PCA).

The PCA urges the House Committee on Trade and Industry and its chair, Gatchalian, to "be mindful in safeguarding and ensuring the survival of local players and the more than 4 million workers in the industry."

"We're trying to put in not restrictions but essentially more regulations because it's evident we don’t have a level playing field with our counterparts," Suelto told ABS-CBN News.

PCA president Will Decena said the unregulated entry of foreign contractors would "adversely affect small and medium-sized Filipino contractors."

"We will even deprive Filipinos of job opportunities in our own country. We reiterate that foreign contractors have the tendency to bring their own people even for jobs than can be performed by Filipinos,” he said in a statement.

To ensure a level playing field, all incentives and privileges extended to foreign contractors should also be given to local contractors, according to DATEM Inc. chair and CEO Levi Espiritu.

"Foreign contractors should comply with whatever regulatory requirements such as, but not limited to, payment of necessary taxes; putting up of equity and investments; and structural warranties for materials, manpower, and equipment, which also are required for local contractors,” he said.

Sen. Miguel Zubiri earlier said he would soon file a bill that would ban foreign contractors from bidding in public contracts worth less than P2 billion.

Watch more in iWantTFC