By Charmaine A. Tadalan, May 6 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

THE Senate committee on economic affairs targets third-reading approval of measures lifting restrictions on foreign investments and institutionalizing the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) ahead of the June 7 adjournment.

“Again, it bears stressing that we need to come up with legislative reforms in order to create a more competitive business environment in the country and to make the country become more adaptable to the current and future business demands and trends,” Panel chair Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in a statement Sunday.

“Rest assured, we will immediately buckle down to work and, hopefully, finish these bills in three weeks before the 17th Congress adjourns sine die,” he also said.

Mr. Gatchalian said he plans to file the committee report on Senate Bill No. 2102, which will amend Republic Act No. 7042, or the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 (FIA), when sessions resume on May 20.

The bill proposes to remove restrictions on foreigners from practicing their profession in the Philippines, provided Filipinos are given reciprocal privileges in the foreign nationals’ own countries.

Moreover, the bill proposes to hold an annual review of the regular Foreign Investment Negative List to keep it in line with the government’s economic policy.

The proposed NEDA Act, under Senate Bill No. 2120, is likely to complete its amendment period in the Senate, Mr. Gatchalian said.

The bill will also allow NEDA to effectively integrate major regional and local development priorities into the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) and Medium-Term Regional Development Plans (MTRDPs).

The counterpart measures of these bills, House Bills No. 8764 and 8635 respectively, have hurdled final reading at the House of Representatives.

Congress has been on break since Feb. 9 to make way for the campaign period for the midterm polls on May 13. It is set to resume from May 20 to June 7, giving it three weeks to finish remaining legislative measures.

The Senator noted as well his committee will also prioritize the bill strengthening the power and functions of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), under Senate Bill No. 2133. — Charmaine A. Tadalan