By Ben O. de Vera, March 11 2019; Philippine Daily Inquirer
Image Credit to ABS-CBN News
The economic team is pushing to amend the 1987 Constitution to lift investment restrictions enshrined in the charter and further open up competition for both local and foreign investors.
“We are working on getting a proposal to Congress so that we can hold a constitutional convention, not so much to focus on the political side, but actually the more important part, which is the opening up of investments,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, who heads the Duterte administration’s economic team, said.
“We are very keenly aware of the negative effects of our very restrictive policies with regards to foreign investments in the Philippines. Since the beginning of the administration, the President has been very vocal about opening up the economy and we have done it in all the administrative ways we are allowed to do by our Constitution. We are opening up as much as we can administratively, [but] there are portions of our Constitution that still limit the opening up of foreign investments,” the finance chief said.
Dominguez later told reporters that the economic team was reviewing the pending legislation in Congress to change the Constitution, although he admitted that there might be not enough time to pursue it during the three-week lame-duck session after the May 13 midterm elections.
Dominguez said they were hoping to have the measure approved by both houses in the upcoming 18th Congress.
Noting that the about 85 percent of investments are being poured by domestic firms, Dominguez said greater competition was expected to boost local investor interest.
“Let’s focus on the bulk, okay? Foreign investment is nice but that’s icing on the cake—that is not what’s going to make this country move forward, it’s the domestic investments,” he said.
For his part, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a statement last week that amendments to the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 and the Retail Trade Liberalization Law were “vital” to attract new investments and cut expansion costs here amid slowing manufacturing growth.