Joint statement supporting full investment liberalization outside of the natural monopolies
There has never been a time when we need more foreign direct investments (FDI) such as now as we work towards the common objectives of recovery and sustainable progress. Current efforts by Congress to facilitate the conducive environment are gaining traction and largely supported by the private sector.
As the Senate deliberates one of such measures in the form of the Public Services Act Amendment (PSA), we strongly oppose moves to return transportation and telecommunication, as well as power generation back to the definition of Public Utilities, wherein these sectors will continue or revert to the 60-40 Filipino-Foreign Ownership requirements under the 1987 Constitution. Our position on transport and telecom has been affirmed by the results from many consultations among exporters, manufacturers, SMEs and other business stakeholders who all had strongly clamored for this reform.
On power generation, we had widely welcomed the Electric Power Industry Reform Act’s (EPIRA) provision to open the sector to local and 100% foreign private investors, helping to meet the critical power need of our growing economy and support our growing economy, especially the fuel-intensive manufacturing industries.
It was our economic czar Sec. Karl Chua who emphasized in his address to the Board of Manufacturing Investment Summit last August 27, 2021 that if we want to move up in status from middle to high-income country, we need to focus on our manufacturing sector. The PSA Amendments are a manifestation of that focus.
There are four factors to production that are preventing the Philippines from developing the much-needed supply chains and from maximizing the potentials of our industries: high inter-island shipping rates, expensive and unreliable internet connection, unreliable power supply, and inadequacy of infrastructure.
That we are in need of urgent and massive upgrade to speed up and improve our telecommunications system is one major realization from this pandemic. We get daily experiences on service interruptions, technical glitches, and lack of internet that in this period and age can make or break a business, disrupt the online delivery of government services (E-BOSS, digital payments), and e-learning. Every second the Philippines is offline because of the inability of our current providers to keep us connected is a second that the Philippines is closed for business.
We know the security and foreign influence concerns of Congress in crafting the law. This is not irremediable. Congress may undertake safeguard measures and strengthen governmental institutions to ensure that our sovereign interests shall be upheld.
We urge the Senate to be bold in this particular policy decision. We have seen how timely and appropriate policy decisions elsewhere have led to significant positive results and these are inspirations that we can learn from and adopt.