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Foreign ownership limits hinder Phl growth potential

Under Article 7 of the Philippine Constitution, foreign investors are prohibited to own more than 40 percent of real properties and businesses, while they are totally restricted to exploit natural resources and own any company in the media industry. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Restrictions in foreign ownership of land and uneven investments in public infrastructure continue to prevent the country from realizing its full economic potential, according to a former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief.

University of the Philippines economist Dr. Gerardo P. Sicat, the first director general of NEDA, underscored the implications of these policy issues that hinder national development in his recent visit to the NEDA Regional Office in Northern Mindanao.

These include restricting foreign nationals to own land, investing in public infrastructure, and prohibiting them to utilize the country’s natural resources.

“More restrictions on policies such as disallowing foreign capital in public utilities made us unable to exactly generate the kind of activities that need to happen,” Sicat said.

The former NEDA chief stressed that foreign investors have greater capacity and capability to contribute to the country’s development.

Under Article 7 of the Philippine Constitution, foreign investors are prohibited to own more than 40 percent of real properties and businesses, while they are totally restricted to exploit natural resources and own any company in the media industry.

The House of Representatives is eyeing to approve the economic Charter change resolution authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. within the week.

The resolution seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in the pertinent provisions of the Constitution that limit foreign ownership of certain businesses and land.

Meanwhile, the Senate is open to debates on the economic resolution once the Lower House passes the measure.

In terms of infrastructure, Sicat said most of these such as roads have greatly improved, but there are also areas that depict persistent poverty.

He noted that there is a need to continually improve roads for industries to come in and generate employment.

“Planning is not only a work of NEDA but of all important institutions integrated into one,” he added.

Sicat is currently undertaking a study on how the Philippines has improved and the bottlenecks that impede regional developments.

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