NEDA: Lifting tight economic provisions to speed up growth

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
NEDA: Lifting tight economic provisions to speed up growth
Arsenio Balisacan
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Lifting restrictive economic provisions of the constitution would help move the economy at a faster pace, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

While the NEDA has not received a directive from President Marcos to study possible amendments to economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters lifting the restrictive provisions would benefit the economy.

“If we can remove all these restrictions, particularly constitutional restrictions, it’s good for the economy because we know all along that these very protectionist restrictive provisions have prevented us from moving as fast as we would want to,” he said.

He said the Philippines has missed out on opportunities due to the restrictive economic provisions.

“In education, there were many missed opportunities there. When the major universities around the world are setting up shop, schools in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, it should have been us. But we have that restriction. They can’t come in,” he said.

Earlier this month, President Marcos said the government was conducting a study to determine if amending the constitution would be needed to attract more investments.

Separately, Marcos’ cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez said lawmakers would push for changes in the constitution’s economic provisions deemed to be “very prohibitive” next year.

Foreign business groups have been calling on the government to lift the 40 percent limit on foreign ownership of local firms.

Balisacan said the government has tried to address the issue through amendments to certain laws. “It’s kind of a piecemeal thing,” he said.

Among the reforms enacted to make the country a more attractive investment destination are amendments to the Public Service Act to allow full foreign ownership in telecommunications, domestic shipping, railways, subways, airlines, expressways and tollways previously subject to a 40 percent limit.

The Retail Trade Liberalization Act was also amended, with the minimum paid-up capital for foreign retailers reduced.

“I am sure there are studies being made in the House or whoever is pushing for this. For us, we will look at it when we get there,” Balisacan said.

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