By Cai Ordinario, October 1 2018; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

The national government is keen on removing licenses and other regulations that hinder the entry of foreign investments in the country, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

In an interview, Neda Undersecretary for Investment Programming Rolando G. Tungpalan told the BusinessMirror the government is now reviewing regulations in construction and agriculture.

Tungpalan said these efforts are being done by the government to accompany the proposed 11th Regular Foreign Investments Negative List (RFINL), which has already been drafted by the Economic Development Cluster.

“There are certain regulations, permitting requirements that need to be reviewed with respect to their hindering the entry of players,” Tungpalan said.

He said making it easier for foreign firms to do business augurs well for the government’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program, which aims to address long-standing infrastructure gaps in the country.

The Neda official said there are certain regulations that require foreign contractors to secure special licenses that can only be used for a limited number of projects. This is cumbersome and could discourage investments in the construction sector.

Tungpalan said addressing their regulations will also help the Philippines sustain the positive growth in the country’s total factor productivity (TFP). He said the country’s TFP is now at 3 percent, the highest in Southeast Asia.

“We celebrate these gains but we continue to work hard with our sights set on our development goals,” he said in a recent statement.

“The Foreign Investments Negative List is now up for the President’s signature, and we are currently reviewing the list of government agencies whose mandates are hindering competition and growth in their sectors,” he added.

Tungpalan also underscored the need to boost science, technology and innovation (STI) and research and development (R&D), particularly in the agricultural sector to help farmers adapt to climate change and increase farm productivity.

By estimates of the Department of Agriculture, Typhoon Ompong (international code name Mangkhut) cost the agricultural sector P26.7 billion and affected 570,521 farmers and fishermen and 755,361 hectares of land.

“With stronger typhoons expected to dampen our productivity, we need to adapt by investing in STI and R&D, particularly to increase crop resiliency, yield and overall productivity of farms,” he said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported the cost of damage from climate-related disasters has been increasing from 2011 to 2016.

The annual average cost of damage to properties due to natural disasters amounted to around P46.74 billion from 2000 to 2016, translating to an average annual loss of 0.40 percent of the country’s GDP.