‘Foreign owners can help develop provinces’

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FOREIGN ownership limits on real estate development in the Philippines should be eased to encourage more investors to come in and develop the vast amounts of land available in provincial areas, a real estate expert said.

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Noli Alleje, managing director of The Property Forum, told The Manila Times on the sidelines of the 3rd Philippine Investment Expo and Conference that with the focus of developers and the new administration shifting to provincial areas, it would be a good time to ease foreign ownership rules on real estate.

“I would say up to 80 percent is okay. It can open up a lot of real estate opportunities,” Alleje noted.

Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, foreign investors are prohibited from owning more than 40 percent of land and businesses in the country and they are also barred from exploiting natural resources or owning any company in the media industry.

Alleje emphasized that the 80 percent foreign ownership he is proposing is for land development and not ownership.

“Not ownership of land, but as developers,” Alleje said..

He said the country needs foreign investors in the real estate industry as there is still so much land to be developed in the provincial areas.

He views the new administration’s focus on regional development as positive.

“There are too many people in Metro Manila—even Cebu is crowded. Davao is crowded. Even the provincial big cities are already crowded,” Alleje said.

In line with the move toward regional development, Alleje said the government should focus on building infrastructure projects in these areas.

“There’s so much land in the provinces, so much big hectares. They could put up streets, highways reaching out there,” Alleje said

He also urged the new administration to pursue better land planning with the creation of various ecozones.

“We have so much land that is not properly planned. They should put ecozones for tourism, ecozones for hospitals, ecozones for education,” Alleje said.

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