A lawmaker from the Visayas region on Monday expressed hope that the House of Representatives under the 18th Congress will prioritize the passage of bills that propose to amend the outdated provisions of the Foreign Service Investments Act, the Public Service Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act to make the country’s business climate more conducive to big, long-term investments.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte was referring to his three separate bills filed which aim to update of three old laws, including the 82-year-old Public Service Act, to ease the entry of foreign direct investments, to boost President Rodrigo Duterte’s agenda of high inclusive growth.
“We need to relax the restrictions in doing business in the country that have become deal-breakers for foreign investors despite the Philippines’ emergence as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia,” Villafuerte said.
One of the laws that Villafuerte seeks to amend, the Public Service Act, aims to open more industries previously misclassified as “public utilities” to foreign investments.
Under Villafuerte’s bill, the term “public utility” shall only refer to the 1) transmission of electricity, 2) distribution of electricity, and 3) operation of waterworks and sewerage systems.
Villafuerte said amendments to the law will free Filipinos from “the mercy of a few oligarchs who effectively control the market and dictate high prices but deliver poor quality of public services.”
“One key to addressing the said problem is to amend the antiquated provisions of The Public Service Act or Commonwealth Act 146, that remains to be the principal law, enacted more than 80 years ago, on business activities that are classified as public utilities or public services,” Villafuerte said.
He said “vast advances in technology and the modes of delivery of services require changes in our laws to be responsive to the changing times.”
Villafuerte also seeks amendments to Republic Act 8179, or the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, to delete the “practice of professions” from the items listed in the Foreign Investment Negative List promulgated by the President.