Lawmaker pushes for ‘Chacha’ to boost foreign investments

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Saturday, February 22, 2014


A LAWMAKER from Cagayan de Oro City is pushing for the economic amendment in the Constitution through Charter Change (Chacha) to boost foreign direct investments in the country.

Representative Rufus Rodriguez of the city’s 2nd district said there is a need to lift the 60/40 ownership rule of local companies in the country.

Article XII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution prohibits foreign ownership of properties to only 40 percent.

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Rodriguez said if the 40 percent prohibition will be increased up to 100 percent ownership, foreign direct investments (FDIs) would increase.

Rodriguez said the country has been lagging in terms of FDIs compared with its neighboring countries in Asia.

He said since 2010 to 2012, the country only has $6.3 billion FDI, while Thailand has $23 billion, Malaysia has $33 billion, Indonesia has $53 billion, and Singapore has P56 billion in 2012 alone, thus, ranking the Philippines the lowest in Asia.

Foreign investment in public utilities

To increase the FDIs in the country, Rodriguez said foreigners should be given the chance to invest in operations on public utilities like telecommunication companies, and airports.

He added that seaports and electric companies should also be open to foreign ownership.

“We should lift the 40 percent restriction and allow 100 percent ownership,” said Rodriguez referring to FDIs.

Rodriguez added the foreign investors are not attracted to invest in the country because of the economic restrictions as mandated in the Constitution.

Employment rate to hike

He said once the FDI increases, the employment rate in the country will multiply.

Rodriguez cited that one of the reasons why he pushed for charter change is the perennial unemployment problem.

“Based on the latest survey around 12.1 million Filipinos are unemployed, while the 2.5 million graduates last year did not find jobs,” he said.

Rodriguez said FDIs would create factories and other businesses that will generate more jobs especially in manufacturing.

Land ownership

Rodriguez said foreigners should be allowed to own lands in the country but only for factory sites and for the headquarters of multinational corporations.

However, he emphasized that before subjecting the lands to foreign ownership, the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) should be fully implemented.

“The lands should be distributed to the farmers through Carp before allowing foreign investors to own lands in the country,” said Rodriguez.

High hopes

Rodriguez said they invited businessmen, both local and foreign, justices and former justices, and most of them agreed with the proposed changes in the Constitution.

He said there is a big support of Chacha coming from the Congress and he is confident that they can get three-fourths of the vote.

Rodriguez said economic charter change would be achieved through a constituent assembly.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 22, 2014.

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