The Senate Committee on Economic Affairs plans to finish at least three key economic-related bills that will help the country become more adaptable to current and future business demands and trends, according to Senator Win Gatchalian.
Gatchalian, chairman of the said committee, identified these measures as Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2102 or “An Act Amending Republic Act No. 7042, otherwise known as the Foreign Investments Act (FIA) of 1991”; SBN 2133, which aims to further strengthen the power and functions of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB); and SBN 2120 or “The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Act of 2019.”
The lawmaker believes that these bills will help foster an inclusive, efficient, and competitive business environment in the Philippines, ensure the country will capture a lion’s share of foreign investments, and create opportunities for more investment portfolios in the country.
“Again, it bears stressing that we need to come up with legislative reforms in order to create a more competitive business environment in the country and to make the country become more adaptable to the current and future business demands and trends,” Gatchalian said.
“Rest assured, we will immediately buckle down to work and, hopefully, finish these bills in three weeks before the 17th Congress adjourns sine die,” he added.
Once the Senate session resumes on May 20, Gatchalian said he will file a committee report on SBN 2102, which aims to amend the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 to further boost foreign direct investment and job creation in the country.
SBN 2102 seeks to update FIA’s declaration of policy to encapsulate inclusive economic growth, advancements in technology, and the dynamic relationships among global and regional economies.
It also mandates the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), in cooperation and consultation with the Board of Investments, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and other pertinent government agencies to conduct an annual review of the country’s Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) to ensure that the list is aligned with this policy.
Moreover, SBN 2102 seeks to amend Section 4 of the FIA to expressly exclude “the practice of professions” from the coverage of the FIA, thus emphasizing that the law only governs equity investments in the Philippines by non-Filipinos.
As for the NEDA bill, the lawmaker expressed optimism that the plenary will wrap up its amendments on the landmark bill and pass it on second and third readings.
The NEDA bill, in a nutshell, aims to institutionalize NEDA, empowering the agency to play a more important role in steering government policies to solve the country’s most pressing socio-economic concerns.
Under SBN 2120, the NEDA shall ensure the integration of major regional and local development priorities into the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) and Medium-Term Regional Development Plans (MTRDPs), respectively.
SBN 2120 also institutionalizes the so-called “Planning Call” that will ensure a timely and coordinated planning process.
Gatchalian pointed out that this legislation has long been overdue since the current NEDA has been created by virtue of Executive Order No. 230 dated July 22, 1987, with then President Aquino exercising legislative powers before Congress resumed.
“In fact, Article XII, Section 9 of the Constitution contemplates the creation of an independent economic and planning agency headed by the President. However, until now – or 32 years since NEDA was created – an enabling law to fully exercise the functions of an independent economic and planning agency has never been passed by Congress,” he said.