THE European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines (ECCP) urged the government to be bolder in its move in implementing the Ease of Doing Business Law to attract more foreign investments.
Nabil Francis, president of ECCP, said the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) has been lagging behind its neighboring countries like Vietnam despite it being having a huge potential in the global market.
“We, in the ECCP, would like to repeat our conviction that there is huge potential in the Philippines. The government is in the right direction with the Ease of Doing Business Law and what we need now is a very strong and accelerated implementation,” Francis said in a media round table discussion on Tuesday, March 19.
The Philippines’ FDI reached US$9.8 billion in 2018, down by 4.4 percent from the US$10.3 billion in 2017, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. This is lower compared to Vietnam’s US$19.1 billion.
“Foreign investors look at the global scene. It is easier to come to the Philippines if there is liberalization of some of the businesses. We would advocate for further openings,” he said.
Florian Gottein, executive director of ECCP, said the infrastructure development thrust in the country will also attract investors to pour funding for new projects.
“Investors are looking at the business environment, the infrastructure, the energy prices, the telecommunication services in terms of quality, speed and pricing,” he said.
In May, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.
But since the bill was passed the government has yet to release the implementing rules and regulations.
The law requires government agencies to process simple transactions within three days, complex transactions within seven days, and highly technical transactions within 20 days.
It also limits to three the number of signatories for applications for licenses, clearance and permits.
Local governments are also mandated to automate their business permit and licensing system, set up one-stop business facilitation services, and use online unified business application forms.
Moreover, the ECCP also stood firm in its stance to keep the incentives for foreign investors that is currently in danger of being taken away from them under the proposed Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher Quality Opportunities (Trabaho) Bill.
Francis said removing incentives would discourage foreign business players from investing in the country which could possibly result to a lower FDI.
“We are advocating for keeping the incentive which is another factor in convincing foreign companies to come to the Philippines,” he said.
“This is creating a lot of uncertainty especially among companies which are here already because they are promised that incentives will be given to them and now there is this miscommunication maybe,” said Gottein. (JOB)