US chamber joins clamor for Charter revisions

Published by rudy Date posted on February 13, 2009

THE American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines has joined the clamor for amendments to the 1987 Constitution, pressing for the scrapping of a provision that bans foreign ownership of land in the Philippines.

The group proposed the lifting of restrictions on foreign equity in local business and on the entry of foreign professionals.

These proposals were among the list of legislative measures that Congress should adopt to make the Philippines more competitive, the chamber said.

“Administrative steps and amendments to outdated legislation should be taken, or introduced in Congress,” it said.

Under the 1987 Constitution, foreigners are prohibited from owning land in the Philippines, something that economists say has been preventing the entry of more investments.

The chamber made the proposals as the House of Representatives began tackling fresh amendments to the Constitution, with an eye on liberalizing certain provisions on business and the economy.

The chamber says it is the people that should ultimately decide whether to accept foreigners to have full equity in properties, industry and the professions. “When and as deemed appropriate by the Filipino people, the Constitutional restrictions on foreign equity should be removed and replaced with legislation.”

The American chamber also urged the Arroyo administration to issue the implementing rules and regulations of three recently passed laws.

These measures include the Credit Information System Act, which was signed into law on Oct. 31, 2008; the Personal Equity Retirement Account Act on Aug. 22, 2008; and the Renewable Energy Act on Dec. 16, 2008.

At the same time, the chamber pushed for the passage of 10 reform bills, including the amendments to the Agri-Agra Law; the amendment to the Customs Brokers Act; the bill creating the Department of Information and Communication Technology; Freedom of Access Information bill; National Tourism Policy bill; and the Pre-need Code.

Also on the chamber’s list are the proposed rationalization of fiscal incentives, the real estate investment trust bill, the residential free patent bill, and the ratification of the Revised Kyoto Protocol.–Roderick T. dela Cruz, Manila Standard Today

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