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Lets Unleash the nations full potentials -- Belmonte The restrictive provisions of the Constitution are among the

main culprits that continue to hinder the country's rapid and consistent economic growth, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte declared today. "The productive capabilities and resources of our country need to be unleashed not shackled by a constitutional straightjacket that denies from our people the benefits that can flow from expanding access to their utilization by Filipinos and foreigners under such terms that will continue to preserve the national partimony for the well-being of the Filipino," Speaker Belmonte stressed as he opened the 3rd Regular Session of the House of Representatives this morning prior to the President's State of the Nation Address at 4:00 pm before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress. "We must break the boom-and-bust cycle. We need to attain much higher and more consistent rates of growth to eventually eradicate poverty," Belmonte added He said there is a need to bring in more and better investments, especially foreign capital, to create more jobs. "We need to bring in the capital and technologies that will keep our workers productively employed. We also need a bigger market to allow us to produce more and maximize the productive use of our resources," Belmont said. Belmonte, consistent with his earlier pronouncements, said "It is high time that we revisit the economic provisions of the Constititon which, to my mind, restrict our economic progress and growth." Having a stable and fair business environment guaranteed by the Constitution should, Belmont said, encourage not only greater foreign investments but promote greater competition among producers and manufacturers that will eventually benefit the consumers and the economy as a whole. "I am not proposing to change the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution overnight. What I am suggesting is for us to take the first step towards relaxing the restrictive economic provisions of our Constitution to allow Congress itself to enact laws that would define foreign participation and nationality requirements in strategic sectors of our economy," the Speaker clarified.

However, the Speaker also assured that "those who advocate the maintenance of restrictions will have all the time and opportunity to convince Congress to do so." During his opening message, Belmonte spelled out the other equally important legislative priorities to support the President's socio-economic development priorities. (dpt)