NEWS

AMCHAM says lifting economic restrictions to make PH economy competitive in the 21st century

June 9, 2021

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Adviser John Forbes has called on the government to open the economic door to create a competitive atmosphere for business to heighten the Philippine market’s potential for investment, public services, and infrastructures.

Forbes said removing or modifying the constitutional restrictions on foreign equity would certainly improve the country’s competitiveness to attract foreign investors.

He said reforming the economic constitution offers a more inclusive economy that would get the Philippine reputation more appealing to foreign investment as the competition is continuous and fierce.

Forbes identified the sectors that could be open up to foreign investors for capital, namely, manufacturing, media, telecommunications, delivery services, and marine ferry services.

“We badly need a new airport, and in my view, the airport does not need to be Filipino-owned, or -operated. It couldn't be privatized or, of course, you can operate the day the government operates the landing and takeoff, but there's a lot that can be done in airports and seaports, and the like. It's a constant challenge,” Forbes said.

Forbes has added his voice to the growing clamor to relax the economic restrictions in the 1987 Constitution which was the subject of the Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 (RBH 2) which was passed on third and final reading by the House of Representatives on June 1. The resolution, authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, has been transmitted to the Senate for approval.

RBH 2 seeks to add the phrase"unless otherwise provided by law" to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. If approved, Congress would be empowered to pass laws lifting current restrictions on foreign investors.

“I think it fits into the third point of the social-economic agenda of the President, which is to increase competitiveness and open up to create a more level playing field for all investors in the Philippine economy,” Forbes said.

He noted foreign investors have been putting a hundred billion dollars a year in China for the last two decades since the country has a large market of consumers.

Similarly, the Chinese businessmen are busy looking at where they can invest, he said.

On June 1, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 (RBH 2), authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, which seeks to add the phrase"unless otherwise provided by law" to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

The resolution, if approved by the Senate, would empower Congress to pass laws lifting current restrictions on foreign investors.

Forbes pointed out that economic restrictions have been in place in the Philippine Constitution of 1935, 1973, and 1987, particularly in the provisions on education, advertising, and media.

“It’s a growing list. It's the only country that adds new restrictions, and, the time has passed for those kinds of restrictions to be in the Constitution. We're in the 21st century now,” Forbes said.

Forbes further said it was vital to provide entrepreneurs access to growth by allowing more players to compete for each stage of broadband and digital infrastructures that connect the consumers with the technology they need every day.