President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent Senate Bills 2094, 1156 and 1840 which seek to amend the existing Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, respectively.
The government’s economic team, which include the Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Trade and Industry and the National Economic and Development Authority, has earlier requested the certification of the bills as urgent which, according to them, are necessary to accelerate economic recovery due to the pandemic.
Senator Christopher Bong Go urged the government to prioritize the implementation of an investment plan which will ensure equitable distribution of wealth, and accelerate socio-economic development in the countryside.
This approach, he said, will help communities recover from the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and provide more economic opportunities to those who wish to start a new life in the provinces.
The priority bills are:
SB 2094 limits the coverage of public utilities to relax foreign equity restrictions in several public service industries, such as telecommunications and transportation.
SB 1156, on the other hand, lowers the minimum paid-in capital for foreign investors to establish small or medium-sized enterprises in the country from US$200,000 to US$100,000 if they employ 15 direct employees. It also creates the Investment Promotion Council which will integrate all promotion and facilitation efforts to encourage foreign investments in the country and establish a one-stop shop for foreign investors.
SB 1840 lowers the capital requirements for foreign enterprises intending to engage in retail trade in the country from US$2.5 million to US$300,000.
By attracting investments to be infused in other parts of the country outside the metropolitan area to accelerate the pace of regional development, Go said that this will provide more employment, livelihood opportunities and increase of technology transfer in the countryside.
“Siguraduhin rin nating makabenepisyo dito ang mga kababayan natin sa malalayong komunidad. Marami na pong gustong umuwi sa kanilang probinsya kaya gawan natin ng paraan na may kabuhayan silang uuwian doon,” he added.
Go was also the main proponent of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program which seeks not only to decongest Metro Manila but also to accelerate socio-economic development in the countryside by creating a policy environment conducive to more investments being infused, giving people more opportunities to improve their lives.