Congress: Act on economic-reform bills

Zoilo ‘Bingo’ Dejaresco IIITHE Philippine Congress should polish its business environment legislation to lure more foreign investors to the country. After all, the businesses that these foreign investors establish will create jobs for Filipinos. In turn, a fully employed constituency will spur consumption, a key element in boosting the nation’s gross domestic product.

The following economic-boosting legislation will serve the next President well: First is the establishment of a level playing field through the proposed Fair Competition law.  This law will put an end to monopoly, duopoly, oligopoly or any such cartel-like businesses that put consumers at a disadvantage. However, this proposed law must have strong punitive sanctions that will send violators to jail.

Without a level playing field, the country would be left behind by our regional competitors because the Philippines would be the only Asean member without such kind of law.  This is not healthy for us in the wake of the regional integration.

The second legislation is the Amendments to the Cabotage law, which allows foreign vessels and local ships (import or export) to dock in the country’s regional piers. This would help ease congestion in Manila piers. At the same time, this will be good for consumers because the reduced shipment costs would translate into cheaper goods.

Another piece of legislation that needs a strong champion is the Customs and Tariffs Modernization Act. This law seeks to reform one of the citadels of corruption in the country, which is the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Once approved, this will lead to the computerization of the entire bureau, which is expected to weed out corrupt practices because it does away with human intervention and implements a  “paperless transaction” that will help eliminate graft. There are, however, persistent rumors that powerful hands are trying to corner the BOC modernization and computerization projects.

Sen. Sonny Angara, meanwhile, is sponsoring the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (Timta) bill that will put an end to government losses incurred due to excessive incentives given to certain parties.

With a database created to track the incentives given by government agencies, the Timta law may yet succeed to rationalize our investment incentives.

The Board of Investments and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority will be included in the monitoring as they grant tax incentives as well to export companies.

The creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology is also a much-awaited legislation. This will include the establishment of the National Privacy Commission to protect businesses and help secure their trade secrets. Fast and reliable Internet system is also an avowed goal of the proposed law, as well as the establishment of free Wi-Fi connections in public places. This apart from the development of an information technology-based educational system.

On the other hand, a law that will amend the build, operate and transfer law, and specifically those included under the public-private partnership projects, must be enhanced.

Finally, we need a law that will amend the current Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. function, which will mandate the creation of a “Bridge  Bank.”  This bank will absorb the assets and liabilities of a failed bank, to nurture it until an appropriate time to seek for bidders. As could be gleaned from recent experiences, bankrupt banks sometimes weaken the PDIC’s own balance sheet in the process of doing its mandate.

While these proposed measures are obviously beneficial to both business and the government, we hope that Congress will not overlook the passage of the Bangsamoro basic law to ensure lasting peace in Mindanao; the antidynasty measure to put an end to the reign of political and economic brokers; and the Freedom of Information bill that will institutionalize transparency in all government offices.

Can Team P-Noy meet its deadline for 2016 in pushing for these bills? The business community ardently hopes for the answer.


Bingo Dejaresco, a former banker, is a financial consultant, media practitioner and political strategist. His opinions are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Finex. He can be reached at




  1. The Senate should devote time to economic reform bills that are aimed at helping the country cope with regional developments and challenges.

    1. The Senate should also work on a legislation that would strengthen the government’s public-private partnership scheme to address infrastructure backlogs.

  2. This is true that the Philippine Congress should polish its business environment
    legislation to lure more foreign investors to the country.

  3. Good to know that the following economic-boosting legislation will serve the next
    President well: First is the establishment of a level playing field
    through the proposed Fair Competition law.

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