By Mario Casayuran
Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate economic committee, on Thursday, vowed to champion liberalization reforms to build an inclusive, efficient, and competitive business environment in the Philippines.
Gatrchalian said the resulting influx of foreign direct investments (FDI) would bring about ‘game-changing benefits’ to Filipino consumers.
Speaking before the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce during the seventh anniversary of Arangkada Philippines on Wednesday, Gatchalian stressed the need for the Philippines to strengthen its investment regime by making it more adaptable to global business demands and trends.
He pointed out the Philippines continues to lag behind its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbors in terms of capturing foreign investment due to the country’s relatively restrictive and less competitive economic policies.
“These laws must be made responsive to the needs of the domestic economy and accommodate the dynamics of the regional and global environment. “Gatchalian said.
“Truly, the liberalization of our foreign investment laws is long overdue,” he added.
Data from the 2015 Foreign Direct Investment Regulatory Restrictiveness Index (FDI Index) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show the Philippines having the most restrictive foreign investment climate in the world.
The FDI Index gauges the economic restrictiveness of a country, including foreign equity restrictions, screening and prior approval requirements, rules of key personnel, and other restrictions on operation of foreign enterprises in 68 countries, including all OECD and G20 countries.
A higher FDI index score indicates a more restrictive foreign investment regime.
Citing the OECD report, Gatchalian said that the Philippines was the only country to score above 0.40. The country’s score was higher than the scores of China (0.386), Saudi Arabia (0.375), Myanmar (0.36), and Indonesia (0.31), according to the senator.
“Liberalizing our laws by relaxing or eliminating these restrictions will allow the country to realize the benefits of FDIs as the world transitions into a borderless economic community,” he explained.
Gatchalian said he is willing to lead the charge in easing barriers that foreign businessmen face in the country through legislative reforms.