October 17, 2017 by jmconsult_user01 in News 0 comments 2909

The proposed latest version of the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) has been submitted to the Office of the President for review. National Economic Development Director General Ernesto M. Pernia expressed optimism in the release of the FINL before the year ends. The proposed aggressive changes were designed so that the Philippines will be at par with the rest of the ASEAN countries. Once signed through an Executive Order, it will be the 11th FINL following the 10th version released during the Aquino Administration.  [1]

Perceived to be the most liberal by far, it has among its provisions the removal of restrictions on foreign-owned investments houses and financial activities in line with the liberalization of the banking sector, practice of professions, foreign infrastructure contractors and lowering the paid-up capital requirement for foreign retailers from $2.5 million to $ 200,000. Public Utilities (telecommunication & water) are expected to have an increased cap on foreign ownership to 70%. [2]  The Philippines has restrictions over ownership of its public utilities up to 40%. [3]  Increasing its cap will require amendment of the old Commonwealth Act No. 146 commonly called the Public Service Act. A bill geared towards its repeal is already filed in the Philippine congress.  [4]

Other areas identified in the Technical Working Group (TWG) report are:

Mass media, supplies to state-owned corporations and agencies as well as bath houses and massage clinics. The government is also looking at allowing foreign pharmacists and forestry to practice their professions in the country, as long as it is under a reciprocity system.

The government may also ease the restrictions on education by limiting the 40 percent foreign equity rule only to basic education. The TWG also recommended that high-level skills development be opened to foreign players.

On mass media, the government is considering the easing of the foreign equity limitations imposed on marketing and advertising through the Internet.

Contracts for the supply of materials, goods and commodities to government-owned or controlled corporation, company, agency or Municipal Corporation are also considered for removal from the list, but also on a reciprocity basis.

Lastly, the TWG has recommended to the Department of Health to classify sauna and steam bathhouses, massage clinics and other like activities under “wellness centers” to allow full foreign ownership. [5]

The 10th FINL mandated no foreign equity for the following: Mass media, except recording; practice of professions in the pharmacy, radiologic and x-ray technology, criminology, forestry and law sectors; retail trade enterprises with paid-up capital of less than $2.5 million; cooperatives; private security agencies; small-scale mining; utilization of marine resources in archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone as well as small-scale utilization of natural resources in rivers, lakes, bays and lagoons; ownership, operation and management of cockpits; manufacture, repair, stockpiling and/or distribution of nuclear weapons; manufacture, repair, stockpiling and/or distribution of biological, chemical and radiological weapons and anti-personnel mines; as well as manufacture of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. [6]

The 11th FINL will not only open its local industries to non-Filipino investor. It will also take the path towards a complete liberalized Philippines. [7]

The FINL is a shortlist of investment areas of activities which may be opened to foreign investors and/or reserved to Filipino nationals. The basic law that governs it is governed by the Foreign Investment Act of 1991. [8]

 

Sources:

[1] http://business.inquirer.net/236854/neda-finl-asean-ernesto-pernia

[2] http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/10/05/1745538/11th-finl-slated-palace-review

[3] http://www.sec.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/EONo.-184-The-Tenth-Regular-Foreign-Investment-Negative-List.pdf

[4] Ibid, Philstar

[5] https://www.pressreader.com/philippines/manila-bulletin/20170817/282007557502109

[6] http://business.inquirer.net/235564/ph-allow-entry-100-foreign-owned-investment-houses

[7] Ibid, Pressreader

[8] http://boiown.gov.ph/db-main-final/foreign-investments/

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