Salceda asks govt to fully open tourism, promote more FDIs

Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda

AN economist-lawmaker on Sunday urged the national government to direct the full resumption of all restricted tourism activities and the promotion of more foreign direct investments (FDIs).

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda issued his statement in response to the February jobs report, which showed an increase in the number of jobless Filipinos to 3.13 million from 2.93 million in January.

According to Salceda, inflation remains a threat to jobs in FDI-driven industries such as the BPO sector and electronics.

“We really have to open up, because the fundamentals will tend to be a little less rosy due to inflation,” Salceda said. “That means growth will come not because prospects are better but because we opened up priorly-existing legal impediments, such as restrictions on tourism due to Covid-19, or because of our FDI rules.”

With elevated inflation, Salceda said firms will be less certain investment will be profitable, saying “so, fundamentally, the incentive to invest gets a little dampened.”

“Of course, we have not maximized our investment horizons due to FDI restrictions and due to Covid-19 rules. So, let’s open up; so we can create jobs,” the lawmaker said. “That will include a rollback of tourism restriction [as] tourism accounts for anywhere between 12 to 14 percent of GDP [gross domestic product].”

Untapped, hesitant

SALCEDA added that the issuance in May of the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP) as well as the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations of the amendments to the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Foreign Investment Act will unleash “previously untapped, restricted or hesitant foreign investment.”

SIPP is the list of sectors that are qualified for tax perks under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Law.

“That will create jobs, too,” Salceda said.

Meanwhile, he outlined some remaining risk factors that the government will have to “counteract” to protect jobs.

“One, the US is raising interest rates. That tends to dampen inbound investments to the Philippines; so we have to watch out for that,” the solon said.

“Two, we need to make sure we don’t experience the kind of Covid surges that other countries are experiencing now. Our hospitals are okay, but we need to keep building more immunity. Doctors and experts suggest that variety in vaccines is causing us to be more immune to new variants than our neighbors,” Salceda added.

“Finally, we need to make sure we don’t blow our recovery with a sudden withdrawal of expansionary monetary policy. The BSP has to be careful with adjustments in our own interest rates, so that we don’t unnecessarily tamp down on the momentum of our recovery,” he said.

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