Euro chamber backs investment reform bills but says 'more' could be done

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 04 2019 05:37 PM | Updated as of Jul 04 2019 06:10 PM

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MANILA - The government is on the right track in pushing for amendments to several laws to attract more foreign investors, the head of a European business group said on Thursday. 

But the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) said that with some tweaks, the proposed amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, Public Services Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act could attract even more investments. 

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia had earlier said reforms to these laws could boost the country's foreign direct investments by as much as $40 billion a year. 

On the Foreign Investments Act, ECCP president Nabil Francis said the requirement to hire at least 50 employees for a foreigner investing $100,000 in the Philippines was "a clear barrier to a foreign investor."

"Reducing it down to 15 [employees] is much more reasonable," Francis said in an interview with ANC. 

Francis also said the negative list, which identifies businesses that foreigners can fully own, needs to be further expanded.

The Retail Trade Liberalization Act, meanwhile, should also bring down the required minimum paid up capital for entering the retail sector to $250,000 from $2.5 million. 

He also said reclassifying public transportation and telecommunications as public services would bring in more players into these areas and improve services. 

"Our advocacy would be to delineate these and to move those sectors to public services," Nabil said. 

On the proposal to lower corporate taxes and remove some fiscal incentives, Nabil said firms enjoying these incentives must be given "sufficient grace period to adapt to the new situation."