October 13, 2015 at 14:15


The House of Representatives has approved a bill creating a Department of Information and Communications Technology. This should please businessmen, who have been pushing for a DICT for several years, and who last week listed other moves that the Aquino administration could undertake in its final months to raise levels of foreign direct investment.

FDI inflow in the first six months of the year dropped 40 percent to $2 billion from the $3.4 billion during the first half of 2014. New FDI projects also went down by 48 percent, from $5.4 billion in the first half of 2014 to $2.8 billion from January to June this year.

Last year was a record one for net FDI inflow, but the Philippines was still way behind its neighbors, with tiny Singapore getting a whopping $67.4 billion, Indonesia $25.7 billion, Thailand $11.8 billion, Malaysia $10.5 billion and Vietnam $6.6 billion.

In a statement, the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines listed what can be done to encourage more FDI. The businessmen believe the suggestions can still be accomplished within the term of President Aquino.

The creation of the DICT will still have to be approved by the two houses of Congress and signed into law. The foreign chambers are also pushing for the enactment of the Customs Modernization and Tariffs Act and Freedom of Information Act as well as amendments to the Apprenticeship Act, BOT Act, Foreign Investment Negative List and the Right-of-Way law.

The investors want traffic congestion eased in Metro Manila and flight delays reduced at the NAIA. They are hoping there will be no repeat of the congestion in the Port of Manila and there will be no blackouts during the dry season next year. They want more public-private partnership projects awarded and VAT refunds for eligible companies processed quickly. They are also hoping that the Philippines will move to join the newly formed Trans-Pacific Partnership and show progress in negotiations for trade and investment treaties with the European Union.

All these suggestions can be accomplished or ramped up within the final months of the Aquino administration. There’s still a lot that can be done, and the government must not be sidetracked from its work by the elections.

Source: www.philstar.com/opinion

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