Louise Maureen Simeon – The Philippine Star

February 2, 2022 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) renewed its call to lawmakers to pass the remaining two economic liberalization bills to aid in the country’s post-pandemic recovery.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the passage of the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act (FIA) and the Public Service Act (PSA) would be crucial in speeding up economic growth this year and beyond.

Chua said these bills would attract more investments in sectors that still need significant improvement such as in telecommunication and transportation.

It will also generate employment, introduce innovation, lower prices and improve the quality of goods and services in the country.

The other economic bill, which is the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, was already enacted in December.

The FIA is already pending transmittal to the Office of the President after it was ratified by both chambers of Congress also in December.

It is expected to spur more innovation by relaxing conditions on paid-up capital for firms with sufficient Filipino employment or enterprises that involve advanced technology or have a start-up status.

Amendments to the PSA, on the other hand, are being deliberated in the Bicameral Conference Committee.

Chua is urging Congress to approve the measure before the adjournment of session this week.

“Foreign investments react favorably to a more liberalized regime. This has been the experience of Vietnam and, most recently, Indonesia. We are looking forward to doing the same so that we can become more competitive and provide Filipino consumers a variety of options at affordable prices,” Chua said.

As of now, the Philippines is the most restrictive in foreign investments in the region, and the third most restrictive in the world which makes the country a laggard in terms of logistics and internet performance.

“Recently, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand have opened up their road transport, airlines, and telecommunications sectors. Technology is advancing very fast, so we need to attract more investments and innovation in these sectors so we will not be left behind,” Chua said.

All three economic measures complement the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act, which brings the Philippines’ corporate income tax rate closer to its ASEAN peers and modernizes the country’s fiscal incentives system.