Villafuerte said his “business-friendly proposals aim to open wide the economy to more foreign investors and make the country’s business climate more conducive to big, long-term investments that could supercharge the economy and generate hundreds of thousands of decent-paying jobs for the country’s young, skilled labor force.”
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Bill filed to limit ‘public utility’ to power, water
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte has filed a bill that seeks to limit the definition of a “public utility” by amending the 82-year-old Public Service Act.

He authored two other measures that would amend the “outdated” provisions of the Foreign Investments Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, two laws that are more than 15 years old.

Villafuerte said his “business-friendly proposals aim to open wide the economy to more foreign investors and make the country’s business climate more conducive to big, long-term investments that could supercharge the economy and generate hundreds of thousands of decent-paying jobs for the country’s young, skilled labor force.” 

“We need to relax the restrictions in doing business in the country that have become deal-breakers for foreign investors despite the Philippines’ emergence as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia,” he said. 

He said the approval of his three bills would serve as the “opening act” for Congress’ eventual move to amend the 1987 Constitution by paving the way to a government switch to federalism and liberalizing foreign ownership restrictions on businesses and land.

Under Villafuerte’s proposal, the term “public utility” shall refer only to transmission of electricity, distribution of electricity, and waterworks and sewerage systems. 

The present law defines “public utility” to include telecommunications and other vital public services. It requires those engaged in these services to obtain franchises from Congress.

Villafuerte said certain business activities “have been misclassified as public utilities or services.”

 “Vast advances in technology and the modes of delivery of services require changes in our laws to be responsive to the changing times,” he said.

As for his proposed change in the Foreign Investments Act, he said he is suggesting that “practice of professions” be removed from the list of activities foreigners are barred from getting into.

His third bill seeks to lower the employment threshold to 15 for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) established by foreign investors with a minimum paid up capital of $100,000.

“These amendments will show the country’s openness to change and willingness to live up to our economic potential by reeling in more foreign investments,” Villafuerte said.

LUIS RAYMUND VILLAFUERTE
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