September 21, 2023

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Route investments from liberalization push to countryside, Marcos gov’t told

2 min read

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT should ensure that foreign investments spurred by the liberalization of key public services benefit the countryside, economists said on Thursday.

“The amended Public Service Act is expected to push infrastructure further,” Leonardo A. Lanzona, who teaches economics at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “However, its impact will be significant only if it is directed to increase infrastructure in remote rural areas.”

“Otherwise, increased foreign participation will only duplicate and crowd out local projects,” he said. “Foreign investment and the technology that comes from it should make these forms of capital in areas that need it cheaper.”

The amended Public Service Act, signed by ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte in March 2022, allows full foreign ownership in telecommunications, domestic shipping, railways and subways, airlines, expressways and tollways, and airports.

The sectors used to be subject to the 40% foreign ownership cap for public utilities under the 1987 Constitution.

Mr. Lanzona said government intervention is needed to ensure that rural areas benefit from the law. “It should incentivize foreign investments in rural areas.”

It took almost a year for the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to release the rules that will enforce the law, which took effect on April 4.

Mr. Lanzona said the amended law complements the push by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. for more private-public partnerships.

“This should expand opportunities for private sector participation in terms of investments and infrastructure,” Emy Ruth Gianan, an economics professor at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “More than opening the economy for broader competition, it should also encourage collaboration.”

Mr. Lanzona said the government should create the right environment to allow…


2023-04-13 12:31:09

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