Speaker bats for relaxed investment rules

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has cited the need to relax the country’s investment regulations to attract more foreign direct investments, especially in agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

Addressing leaders and members of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines and local business groups during a virtual conference Thursday, Velasco said more foreign investments in agriculture and manufacturing would also mean more local jobs for Filipinos.

“We sorely need investments in these sectors—massive and sufficient—to generate and sustain employment,” Velasco said in his speech during the 9th ARANGKADA Philippines Forum titled “Foreign Investment in the Post-Pandemic Philippines.”

Velasco said agriculture and manufacturing should be major sources of employment, especially for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a huge number of them were forced to return home amid the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He lamented that OFWs were first to get laid off because foreign countries needed to take care of their own workers first. “Would it not have been better if, in the first place, our workers did not have to go abroad to find quality employment?”

“Unfortunately, one of the most crippling structural weaknesses in the Philippine economy is the underperformance of our agriculture and manufacturing sectors,” he said.

To lure more foreign investors, Velasco said the country would need to relax its business regulations to make them more friendly to foreign investments.

The Marinduque solon then called for the enactment of investment-related legislative proposals, especially those espoused by the JFC and Philippine business groups.

These include amendments to the Public Service Act, the Retail Trade Act and the Foreign Investment Act, all of which have already been passed by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate for its consideration.

In a related development, Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas pushed for a salary increase for health workers in the private sector to discourage them to leave their families and work abroad.

Vargas filed House Bill 7784 or the Salary Increase for Private Sector Medical Workers Act, which seeks to upgrade the minimum monthly salary of nurses and other medical workers in the private sector to equal that of their public sector counterparts.

The salaries of workers occupying higher positions would also be adjusted accordingly.

“Our nurses and other health care workers in private institutions are criminally underpaid. The pandemic has only emphasized their important role not only in providing needed health care service but in addressing public health concerns such as COVID 19,” Vargas said.

“There is no better time to give them proper compensation for their work. This would also help convince them to stay and continue caring for their fellow Filipinos,” Vargas added.

The entry-level salary of government nurses was raised this year from Salary Grade 11 or about P22,000 to SG-15, which is around P32,000, due to the new Salary Standardization Law, or Republic Act 11466.

Topics: Lord Allan Velasco , oint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines , 9th ARANGKADA Philippines Forum
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