By Chino S. Leyco
President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s long-delayed foreign investments negative list is now ready for the Chief Executive’s signature, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said yesterday that they have already submitted to Malacañang the 11th Foreign Investments Negative List (FINL), which once implemented will lift or ease some business restrictions in the country.
“We have already completed the draft streamlined 11th Foreign Investments Negative List, which is now with the President for signature,” Pernia said in a statement, without giving further details about the document’s contents.
Duterte’s first FINL was supposed to come out in May 2017 but it was delayed for more than a year because the economic managers wanted the new list to be the “most liberal” when it comes to foreign investors.
Based on a FINL technical working group (TWG) report, areas where foreigners could eventually fully operate include financing and investment companies, as well as education. They may also practice some licensed professions in the Philippines.
Other areas identified in the TWG report are mass media, supplies to state-owned corporations and agencies as well as bath houses and massage clinics.
According to the report, the government can cite Republic Act No. 10881 as its basis to allow foreign nationals acquire full ownership of financing and investment companies in the Philippines.
The government is also looking at allowing foreign pharmacists and forestry to practice their professions in the country, as long as it is under a reciprocity system.
Along with this, the government may also ease the restrictions on education by limiting the 40 percent foreign equity rule only to basic education. The TWG also recommended that high-level skills development be opened to foreign players.
On mass media, the government is considering the easing of the foreign equity limitations imposed on marketing and advertising through the Internet.
Contracts for the supply of materials, goods and commodities to government-owned or controlled corporation, company, agency or municipal corporation are also considered for removal from the list, but also on a reciprocity basis.
Lastly, the TWG has recommended to the Department of Health to classify sauna and steam bathhouses, massage clinics and other like activities under “wellness centers” to allow full foreign ownership.
The Philippines’ so-called “foreign investment negative list” lays out investment areas closed to foreign investment and areas where foreign ownership is limited. The list is periodically by the NEDA.
In 2015, business groups were dismayed after former President Benigno S. Aquino III kept the list of industries reserved for Filipinos under the 10th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List.