DESPITE the passage of new laws which liberalized the economy, the entry of more investments in the country remained limited due to “restrictive” economic provisions of the Constitution and vague economic policies, members of the House of Representatives (HOR) insisted on Monday.
The congressmen said they will be pushing to finally remove the said issues through a “constructive” engagement
with the Senate in amending the 1987 Constitution in line with the call of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
In a press conference on Monday, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman and Albay 2nd district Rep. Jose “Joey” S. Salceda said the Philippines is still among the countries with the most restrictive economy in the world.
“And all those restrictions are in the Constitution. That is the problem,” Salceda said.
One of such restriction, he said, is the constitutional ban on foreigners from owning land, which the lawmaker said, is discouraging them from investing “heavily on capital-intensive sectors.”
Marcos earlier said he is open to amending the economic provisions of the Constitutions except for land ownership, and some sectors like media.
Marikina Rep. Stella A. Quimbo also said ambiguities in existing economic policies such in the case of telecommunications (telco) made it and other industries unattractive sectors to invest into.
She explained that while telcos were removed from the list of public utilities under the Public Service Act (PSA), it was included in the list of critical infrastructure, wherein foreign ownership remained limited to just 40 percent.
Both economist-lawmakers made the pronouncement when asked why there is still a need for the proposed amendment of the economic provisions of the Constitution with the passage of the trio of economic liberalization measures such as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Foreign Investment Act and the PSA.
Quimbo said these laws are only “second best solution” to make the country a top destination for investments since the country still has distinction of having restrictive Constitution.
“So maybe if we remove the those restrictions or include the phrase unless otherwise provided by law, that would finally be the …clearest signal to our foreign investors including those which want to enter the telco sector that the Philippines is already sure that it wants to open up the economy,” she added, partly in Filipino.
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