AT least 15 private business groups have come out in support of the Senate bill amending the 85-year-old Commonwealth Act No. 146, or the Public Service Act, but want senators to revisit two provisions that they say would negate the objective of luring in more
One provision they took issue with is a “reciprocity clause which requires a similar treatment by the home country of the foreign investor before it can be allowed to own more than
40 percent of the capital of public services engaged in critical infrastructure.”
Second is the provision “governing investments by foreign-state owned enterprises,” which the business groups said “can be interpreted as prohibiting sovereign wealth funds from investing in public service classified as critical infrastructure.”
In a statement sent to media outlets, the groups said, “We strongly urge that these provisions be revisited and/or refined as they pose obstacles to the achievement of the bill’s avowed objective to attract more foreign investments.”
Nonetheless, the organization said they “strongly support” passage of Senate Bill No. 2094, which senators started deliberating on in plenary last week after the Committee on Public Services chaired by Sen. Grace Poe endorsed it.
The bill is one of three economic bills certified urgent by President Duterte—the other two being the amendments to the retail trade liberalization law and the Foreign Investments Act.
In their statement asking senators to revisit the two disputed provisions, the 15 groups said: “The bill is a low-hanging fruit in the legislative tree to attract foreign investments instead of amending the Constitution which is highly controversial and ill-timed under present circumstances.”
The bill will end, they noted, the “archaic” commingling of the concept of public utilities and other forms of public services, which they said impaired the country’s ability to attract foreign investments.
Some of the groups are: the Cebu Business Club, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Fintech Alliance PH, Investment House Association of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants.