Govt to lift administrative caps on foreign investment by 2017

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team plans to lift “administrative restrictions” on foreign equity restrictions by next year, hoping to lure more foreign investments.

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In Malacañang on Wednesday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said this would be done through a review of the Foreign Investment Negative List issued periodically by Malacañang under the Foreign Investments Act of 1991.

“There are administrative restrictions. It’s called a negative list and these are areas where administratively, the government does not allow more than x amount of percent of foreign ownership,” Dominguez told reporters when asked about the lifting of foreign equity restrictions.

During Duterte’s official visit to Japan last week, Japanese businessmen were reported as having sought the lifting of foreign investment caps in the Philippines.

Under the Foreign Investments Act, 100 percent foreign equity in economic activities is allowed except as restricted by the negative list. For example, the negative list limits foreigners to 40 percent equity in utilities and bars foreign investments entirely in media and education, as required by the 1987 Constitution.

“The window will open for us to review that in May of 2017 and certainly, the economic team is going to look at lifting administratively some of those restrictions,” Dominguez said.

The latest negative list, the tenth since 1991, was issued on May 29, 2015 by then president Benigno Aquino 3rd through Executive Order 184.

As for the Constitution itself, change will “take a bit of time,” he said.

“That takes a little more doing and frankly, we cannot put a timeline on it since this will be done in cooperation with the Congress of the Philippines,” Dominguez said.

On October 19, charter change cleared its first hurdle after the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments approved a proposed resolution calling for a Constituent Assembly to speed up the process of revising the 1987 Constitution.

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1 Comment

  1. Roralidrakkonis on

    Rather than making it a Constitutional amendment, it would be more practical to remove completely the provision of foreign investment caps in the Charter and instead make it a regular legislation. As the article states, any change to the Constitution takes far too much time. But as a regular law, it can be amended much more quickly, which is more realistic, given the volatile nature of world economics. That would certainly improve our investment climate even more.