NEDA to push investment- oriented bills in Congress
Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) - July 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will push for the passage of several investment-oriented laws in Congress as it addresses misses in medium-term development targets and make further progress in the globally-committed sustainable development goals (SDGs).

President Duterte enumerated a long list of reforms he wants carried out in the remaining years of his term during his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA).

From the point of view of economic development, however, NEDA wants laws that will pave the way for attracting investments and creating jobs, as well as those that will help build the resilience of vulnerable economic sectors.

“From the standpoint of NEDA, it should be the three bills that have to do with investments. Like the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and of course, the TRABAHO Act,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA  chief Ernesto Pernia.

“Also the National Land Use Act, as well as laws creating the departments of water and disaster resilience,” he added.

Pernia noted, however, that the proposal to create a Cabinet-level department for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) needs further study.

“The (creation of) an OFW department, I think that needs further study,” he said.

Before President Duterte’s SONA, Pernia said foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the country can be increased threefold by amending the three key investment laws.

The proposed amendments to the Retail Trade Act seeks to ease the equity and capitalization requirements for foreign entrants in the retail sector.

Proposed changes to the Foreign Investment Act include reducing the required number of direct employees for businesses with 40 percent foreign equity and paid-in capital of $100,000 to 15 from 50. It likewise excludes the practice of professions from restrictions.

Amendments to Public Service Act, meanwhile, proposes that all transmission of electricity, distribution of electricity, and water works and sewerage systems shall make up the exclusive list of public utilities. It likewise raises the foreign ownership limit in public utilities.

The TRABAHO bill essentially reduces the corporate income tax and rationalizes the provision of tax incentives to be more perfomance-based and time-bound.

Having a framework for national land use, meanwhile, can provide for the sound management and development of the country’s land and water use.

Alongside this, the creation of the departments of water and disaster resilience will harmonize the functions of the numerous bodies regulating water resources and disaster response and risk reduction, enabling the government and private sector to immediately respond to needs and challenges.

As the administration is already well into the second half of its term, NEDA is conducting the mid-term review of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 to track accomplishments and identify strategies to address misses.

“We are taking stock of what has been accomplished in terms of our target outcome. We have fallen short of our growth targets and it’s really because of the external environment which has been very challenging. It has been very difficult for many countries, not just the Philippines,” said NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon.

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