• Foreign biz groups seek reform bills passage

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    THE Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) is encouraging the Legislative Branch to approve the bills seeking to make the Foreign Investment List (FINL) less negative.

    The bills are the Foreign Investment Act amendments (House Bill 2818 and Senate Bill 1424) and the FINL Liberalization Act (HB 5544 and SB 2517).

    Besides amendments to what the groups perceive as the restrictive provisions under the Constitution, there are amendments to individual laws which supposedly restrict foreign equity that have been introduced under the current Congress.

    The bills under deliberations by the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee remain pending in House Trade Committee.

    The JFC sent a letter to Senate President Franklin Drilon recommending the passage of both bills, considering the very limited time left for the 16th Congress. The letter has also been sent to House Trade Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Villar to start the hearing on the bills.

    “The FINL Liberalization Act is included in President Aquino’s Priority Legislative Measures (as of July 2015),” JFC said in a statement.

    “It is intended to remove restrictions on adjustment companies, lending companies, financing companies, and investment houses in the FINL under a single reform measure.
    The proposed law is consistent with banking and financial sector reforms undertaken in the 15th and 16th Congresses to relax or remove restrictions on foreign equity,” the statement read.

    “It would facilitate entry of new investments through foreign equity and trade liberalization,” it added.

    Amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, on the other hand, seek to lower the minimum paid-in capital for foreign equity and reduce the employment requirements for foreign investments.

    The JFC is a coalition of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese and Korean Chambers in the Philippines and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Headquarters Inc.

    The group claims to represent over 3,000 member companies engaged in over $230 billion worth of trade and $30 billion worth of investments in the Philippines.

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