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FEB.

12, 2014

NR # 3375D

Relaxing restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution for sustained growth and job generation Belmonte
Leaders of foreign and Philippine business and industry today strongly endorsed the call of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. for the relaxation of the restrictive onstitutional provisions on foreign investments. !he Speaker reiterated his call before the Joint Foreign hambers and Philippine Business "roups in a consultative dialogue, held at the Batasan Pambansa complex on #ednesday, focused on crafting a common economic legislative reform agenda to push sustained inclusive gro$th. Belmonte underscored the indispensable role of trade and investments in economic development $hich %ump start and sustain economic gro$th, $hile providing %obs essential to poverty eradication. &For this reason, ' am pushing for the relaxation of the restrictive economic provision of the onstitution regarding foreign investments,( he told foreign and local business leaders. Belmonte is author of )ouse *esolution +o. , $hich proposes to amend the restrictive economic provision of the onstitution through the regular legislative process of ongress $ith both hambers acting separately on the proposal, $hich $hen ultimately passed by both houses voting separately, could be affirmed by the Filipino people through a national referendum. !he proposed amendment $ould %ust entail the introduction of the phrase &unless other$ise provided by la$.( &!he amendment $ould serve as the key to open the door for ongress to craft a la$, in consultation $ith all concerned sectors of society, $hich $ould maximi-e the inflo$ of foreign direct investments into the economy $ithout pre%udice to national patrimony,( he stressed. !he process, Belmonte said can assure the nation that only the economic provisions $ould be amended, and the entire process $ould not entail additional expense since ongress $ould use funds already appropriated for the regular operations of ongress this year as provided for in the ./,0 "eneral 1ppropriations 1ct. &Let me %ust assure all of you that our push for this specific amendment of our onstitution $ill not sidetrack us from acting on other legislative priorities of ongress,( he stressed. !he )ouse leader proudly noted before the business leaders that &indeed, the reforms $e have envisioned are bearing fruit before our eyes.( &!he President2s emphasis on good governance or 3 Daang Matuwid is steering the Philippines to a path of high and sustained gro$th, and has also brought the country into the

international limelight,( he stressed. )o$ever, Belmonte expressed concern that the encouraging economic gro$th &has not commensurately increased employment and has not significantly improved the lives of poor Filipinos.( &'t is $orth noting that despite their relatively lo$er economic gro$th rate in recent years, our neighboring countries in the region continue to en%oy lo$ unemployment rate,( Belmonte candidly pointed out. Furthermore, Belmonte said that &$hile the macroeconomic fundamentals of the Philippines have been impressive, its share of foreign direct investments pales in comparison $ith those of other countries in the region.( 'n the 1S41+ region, the Philippines2 share of foreign direct investment during the period .//56./,, averaged only ,.7 percent. Singapore got the lion2s share of F8' at 90:, follo$ed by 'ndonesia at ,9:, ;ietnam at 5.,:, <alaysia at 7.5: and !hailand at 7.=:. !otal F8' of the Philippines for the same period amounted to only >S?0.96billion or less than a fifth of the F8' that $ent to ;ietnam $hich raked in >S?.@./6billion. !he Speaker could not disagree $ith the Foundation for 4conomic Freedom2s eminent economic think6tank led by its President, <r. !oti hikiamco, $ho pointed out thatA & Opening up our economy to more foreign investors, especially in strategic industries where foreigners are presently prohibited from owning a majority, will help improve competition, increase consumer welfare, lower prices, raise productivity, and facilitate technology transfer. &B hasten to add that the amendments $ill %ust be a key, because ongress $ould still need to pass the appropriate la$s. But ' believe, as $ith most, if not all of you, that this easing of foreign o$nership restrictions $ill provide a strong and uneCuivocal signal to foreign investors interested in the Philippines,( Belmonte said. Belmonte, like$ise said that &around this time next year, $e expect the 1S41+ to commence its transformation into a single market and production base $ith free movement of goods, services, capital and skilled labor. &!he establishment of the 1S41+ 4conomic ommunity is practically here,( he pointed out. >nder the circumstances, he said, there is an urgent need to make the Philippines attractive to foreign direct investments to be able to maximi-e the benefits of economic integration. &#e cannot afford a scenario $here our 1S41+ neighbors $ill be exporting goods to us $hile $e export our $orkers to them to run their factories. '2m sure $e all agree that this $ould be a most sorry scenario,( Belmonte declared. !he speaker also enumerated a list of bills $hich both the )ouse and Senate leaderships have earlier agreed to vigorously pursue in the ,= th ongress $hich, he noted, have vast similarities $ith the priority list of the business groups.

!hese include, among others, theA ,D Bangsamoro Basic La$E .D onsumer Protection 1ctE @D Land >se PolicyE 0D Fiscal 'ncentives *ationali-ationE 9D !ax 'ncentives <anagement and !ransparency 1ctE =D 1nti6!rust or competition La$E FD Freedom of 'nformation 1ctE and 7D #histle Blo$ers Protection 1ct. Like$ise, the list includes the proposed amendments to theA ,D entral Bank harterE .D Build6Gperate6!ransfer La$E @D abotage La$E 0D 4lectric Po$er 'ndustry *eform 1ct, or 4P'*1E 9D 'nvestments and 'ncentives ode of the PhilippinesE =D Sandiganbayan La$E and FD #itness Protection 1ct. !he business leaders and guests include, among others, the follo$ingA <r. <ichael *aeuber and <r.)enry Schumacher of the 4uropean hamber of ommerce of the PhilippineE <r. John Forbes and <r. Hent Primor of the 1ustralian6+e$ Iealand hamber of ommerce of the PhilippinesE <r. +obuo Fu%ii of the Japanese hamber of ommerce and 'ndustry of the PhilippinesE <r. *amon del *osario of the <akati Business lubE <r. 4duardo Jap of the <anagement 1ssociation of the PhilippinesE <r. Sergio Grti- Luis of the Philippine hamber of ommerce and 'ndustryE <r. Luis <iguel 1boiti- of the Philippine 'ndependent Po$er Producers 1ssociationE <r. 8onald 8ee of the 4xport 8evelopment ouncilE <r. alixto hikiamko of the Foundation of 4conomic Freedom. )ouse leaders $ho attended the dialogue includeA 8eputy Speakers )enedina 1badE "iorgidi 1ggabaoE arlos Padilla and *oberto PunoE and the follo$ing chairperson of the various )ouse ommitteesA )on. !eddy Bra$ner6Baguilat K1grarian *eformDE )on. 'sidro >ngab K1ppropriationsDE )on. Sonny ollantes KBanks and Financial 'ntermediariesDE )on. <ylene "arcia61lbano K onstitutional 1mendmentsDE )on. 4nriCue o%uangco K4conomic 1ffairsDE )on. *eynaldo >mali K4nergyDE )on. Harlo 1lexei +ograles KLabor and 4mploymentDE )on. Jorge 1lmonte KPublic 'nformationDE )on. <ark ;illar K!rade and 'ndustryDE )on. esar Sarmiento K!ransportationD and )on. *omero Federico Luimbo K#ays and <eansD. K@/D dpt