Duterte asks Congress to prioritize 3 bills to speed up economic recovery
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has urged Congress, especially the Senate, to fast-track three pending bills that will further open up the economy to more foreign investors and help it recover from a pandemic-induced recession.
In an April 12 letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Mr. Duterte said he had certified the immediate passage of amendments to the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
The proposed changes to the antiquated Public Service and Foreign Investments laws would allow greater foreign participation in previously restricted sectors while in the retail trade law, these would bring down the capitalization ceiling for foreign-led retailers that want to operate in the country.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco also received the letter, a soft copy of which was sent by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to reporters on Tuesday.
Enacting these measures into law would “address the immediate and continuing need for legislative reforms to provide a more conducive investment climate, increase job opportunities, foster more competition and further spur the country’s economic growth,” the President said.
Dominguez, the administration’s chief economic manager, had said Congress should prioritize passing these bills as this action was more doable than pushing for Charter change to remove some economic restrictions under the Constitution.
In a text message, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the Senate had pledged to pass the three bills before Congress adjourns in June.
Chua, who heads the National Economic and Development Authority, said last month that their passage would boost the recently passed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which took effect on Monday.
CREATE Law slashed the income taxes slapped on corporations to 25 percent, while micro, small and medium enterprises enjoyed a bigger cut to 20 percent retroactively applied to July 2020. Before CREATE, the Philippines had the highest corporate income tax rate of 30 percent in the Asean region.
“To maximize the benefits from the enactment of CREATE, we urge Congress to urgently pass the amendments to the Public Service Act, Foreign Investment Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act this year. These bills will complement CREATE by easing restrictions on foreign investments,” he added.
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