By Chino S. Leyco
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) assured British businesses that the government is working to ease foreign investment restrictions through the 11th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List (RFINL).
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia admitted during a recent forum in London that compared with its neighbors, the Philippines “seems to be the most restrictive in terms of foreign direct investments.”
“We have many negative-listed investment areas and activities, meaning that there is a high restrictive wall on the participation of foreign investors. We hope to boost foreign investments in the country by means of lifting or easing such restrictions,” Pernia said.
He added that not all areas can be adjusted by an Executive Order. Some need legislation while others, constitutional amendment.
“For the first category, which can be adjusted by Executive Order (EO), we already have the proposed EO, which is now with the President for his signature,” Pernia said.
The draft Executive Order on the 11th RFINL eases foreign restriction on the following areas and activities: private recruitment for local and overseas employment; practice of select professions; construction and repair of public works projects; culture, production, milling, processing and trading of rice and corn; teaching at higher education levels, and retail trade.
Meanwhile, Pernia highlighted the country’s stable macroeconomic standing and bright prospect for growth at the economic briefing.
“The Philippine economy has been growing by an average of 6.4 percent in the last eight years, the strongest since the mid-1970s. For the first half of 2018, the economy grew by 6.3 percent,” Pernia said.
“And aside from consistently high economic growth, the Philippine economy rests on three strengths now. One is that it is investment driven, second is high total factor productivity, which is nearly 3 percent, the highest now in ASEAN, and third, we are experiencing a resurgence in the manufacturing sector,” he added.
Pernia likewise emphasized that the government is focusing on connecting the country’s islands through aggressive infrastructure development.
“We are determined to close the infrastructure gap, create more jobs, and reduce inequality across regions and households,” he said.
Secretary Pernia, along with the rest of the Economic Team, also met separately with several UK companies like Vodafone and Shell, besides select investors, for a comprehensive briefing on the Philippine economy, as well as to discuss possible investment partnerships.