Foreign investments

Congress ratifies bicameral report on foreign investment law amendments


BOTH Houses of Congress have ratified the report of the bicameral conference committee harmonizing a measure amending the Foreign Investment Act of 1991, which would open up more industries to foreign direct investment.

Senator Maria Imelda Josefa R. Marcos, the bill’s principal sponsor and chair of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, said the bicameral conference used the Senate bill as the basis for the final version of the measure.

The report reconciled the differences between Senate Bill 1156 and House Bill 300.

“I am grateful to the House panel for their generosity and openness in accepting our sweeping changes and their meaningful introduction of many of the law-enhancing amendments we see now,” she told the plenary session. Tuesday evening.

If approved, foreigners will be allowed to own 100% more domestic companies, excluding industries on the foreign investment negative list.

The required number of local direct hires for foreign companies will be reduced to 15 from the current 50.

The reconciled version also called for the creation of an online portal for foreign investors.

Language on labor requirements has been streamlined for employment in companies with paid-up capital of less than $100,000.

Ms. Marcos said language has been strengthened to recognize employee rights and to institutionalize the requirement for understudy programs for foreigners’ work permits.

Under the harmonized bill, a national security review is now limited to foreign investments involving military-related industries, cyber infrastructure, pipelines or other activities that may threaten territorial integrity and security, the safety and well-being of Filipino citizens.

The measure will not cover financial institutions regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and professions under the jurisdiction of professional regulatory bodies.

The anti-corruption provision of the list of penalties has been simplified. Any official or employee involved in the promotion of foreign investment who commits offenses is liable to fines ranging from 2 to 5 million pesos.

An inter-agency coordination committee for investment promotion will also be created under the proposed law, which will be headed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The measure will now be sent to the Palace for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature.

The Philippines was ranked the third most restrictive economy out of 83 in the Foreign Direct Investment Regulation Restriction Index compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in the ranking released last year. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan