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MARCH 15, 2013

NR # 3044

Full and fair competition in trade a must – Belmonte
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. has assured leaders of local and foreign businesses that Congress strongly supports initiatives enhancing national policies promoting fair and full competition in all commercial economic activities. “Meaningful socio-economic development means, among others, promoting and enhancing economic efficiency and full competition in trade, industry and all related activities,” Belmonte stressed, adding that, “we must encourage more direct investments.” He underlined the need to enact the proposed Philippine Fair Competition Act contained in HB 4835, which, before the February session break, was being fine-tuned in plenary for 2nd reading approval at the House of Representatives. “We are aware of the very limited time left for the 15th Congress, but we also can’t just pass any measure half-baked. Even if we are able to pass it before the June, sine die, the measure will still have to pass Senate scrutiny as well,” said Belmonte, one of the principal authors of the bill. The Speaker is confident that the incoming 16th Congress would give due consideration to this measure as well as many other vital measures, already in their advanced stages in the 15th Congress – all in support of the reform process started by the current Congress. “The reform process that we have started working on together must continue. We have planted the seeds of change in this congress for the next one to develop and harvest, so to speak,” Belmonte stressed. The passage of the Competition Policy or Anti-Trust Act (HB 4835), the Speaker said, is essential to level the playing field among firms and to effectively reduce transaction costs and risks for businesses. To heighten investments input, the Speaker is also strongly batting for the enactment of the amendments to the BOT law and the House-approved National Land Use Policy Act now in the Senate. This is apart from his advocacy to remove the economic restrictions in the Constitution. HB 4835, authored by some 75 lawmakers, is entitled: “An Act penalizing anticompetitive agreements, abuse of dominant position, and anti-competitive mergers, establishing the Philippine Fair Competition Commission and appropriating funds therefor, and for other purposes.” Another major objective of the bill is to prevent the concentration of economic power in a few persons who threaten to control the production, trade, or industry in order to stifle competition, distort, manipulate or constrict the discipline of free markets, and increase market prices. (30) dpt