Philippines: Measure lifting restrictions on foreigners in business could still make it out of 17th Congress

  • A MEASURE further relaxing restrictions in Republic Act No. 7042, or the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 (FIA), could be one of the bills that could secure approval in the remaining days of the 17th Congress, Senate leaders said in separate interviews late last week.
  • “We’re in the process of taking in the inputs of the stakeholders when we had the hearing a few months ago. Less controversial. We will try to sponsor it when we open,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, author of the measure, said.
  • The 17th Congress, currently on a 9 Feb 19 – 19 May 19 break for the midterm elections, has 20 May 19 – 7 Jun 19 left to act on bills. Any measure that fails to make it out of the legislative mill by then will have to be filed again.
  • Asked if the bill has a chance to be passed by June 7, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said that it is “possible”. Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, said that it is difficult to commit to approval now.
  • Mr. Gatchalian had filed Senate Bill No. 2102, seeking to amend RA 7042 by removing restrictions on foreigners from practicing their profession in the Philippines, provided Filipinos are given the same privilege in the home economies of benefitting foreign nationals.
  • It also proposes to reduce to 15 from the current 50 direct local hires the minimum employment requirement for small- and medium-sized domestic enterprises with 40% foreign equity with minimum paid-in capital of USD100,000 that will be allowed to set up shop in the country.
  • Moreover, the bill proposed an annual review of the Foreign Investment Negative List — which identifies sectors, industries and economic activities reserved for Philippine nationals and those open to up to 40% foreign participation or ownership of up — that is now updated no more than once every other year.

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