Foreign companies keen on investing in PH

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

April 18, 2022, 6:00 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – Many international companies are keen on investing in the Philippines after the passage of game-changing reforms under the Foreign Investments Act and Public Service Act, a House leader said on Monday.

House Committee on Economic Affairs chair Sharon Garin said the country is now attracting the "good" kind of attention from investors who were previously hesitant to invest in the country because of restrictive old laws.

“Finally, after a century of restrictions, we now have relevant laws to help which encourages long-term investments in underutilized public sectors such telecommunications, shipping, air carriers, railways, and subways," Garin said.

Garin particularly noted that Elon Musk's satellite-based internet service Starlink would soon operate in the Philippines.

"We have heard from Elon Musk’s Starlink, which will hopefully make internet better and more accessible all over the country. Their low-orbit satellite technology can bring internet access to remote areas which are previously underserved or unserved by traditional connectivity," she said.

She cited Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen as saying that there are Swiss companies planning to set up operations in the country.

She also said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson, as well as the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines officials, have noted that the liberalization of some business would usher in more foreign funds and spur economic growth.

"I can go on, but the list of excited potential investors is long. What is clear to me is that by making our economic policies relevant, we are now seeing a renewed interest in revitalizing our economy from many sectors," she said.

She said increased competition will generate higher quality of service and competitive pricing for consumers.

"Better services but lower prices will be our goal without sacrificing our local businesses and the consumers. We have put safeguards such as penalties for erring companies offering public services, and we have established a stringent set of requirements for vulnerable sectors and vetting of all potential investors,” Garin said.

She stressed the need for economic and technology exchange in the country, which has been lagging behind some neighboring countries and are further hampered by the economic shutdowns during the community quarantines.

"An inflow of capital and better technology is a great step towards reviving our economy,” Garin said.

The Public Service Act amendments modified an 85-year-old act to change the legal definition of “public services” and those that are blanketed by the category of the "public utilities" industry.

The law now limits "public utility" to distribution and transmission of electricity, petroleum and petroleum products transmission, water distribution and wastewater systems, seaports, and public utility vehicles.

Under the new measure, the 40 percent cap on foreign equity ownership is lifted from public services not classified as "public utility."

Meanwhile, amendments to the Foreign Investments Act would allow qualified non-Philippine nationals to do business in the country or invest in a domestic enterprise up to 100 percent of its capital and liberalizes the practice of professions not governed by existing special laws.

The law also allows foreign investors to set up 100 percent ownership of all small- and medium-sized enterprises. (PNA)