Speaker Belmonte renews push for charter change in economic provisions

June 25, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. renewed his push to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution, saying that the country needs to ride the momentum of high investors’ confidence in the economy.

“With all these positive and encouraging developments, we will not relent in our charter change bid so that the restrictive economic provisions in our Constitution would now be removed,” Belmonte said.

“This effort is based on our strong view that cha-cha (charter change) will sustain and provide more economic gains for our country,” he added.

Recent positive developments in the economy and the high confidence of foreign investors justify the need to do away with the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.

“We can sustain and even boost these positive economic developments and the high foreign investors’ confidence in our country if we can ease our Constitution of these restrictive economic provisions now,” he said.

Last week, the House leader said that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that foreign portfolio investments or hot money registered a net inflow of $545.08 million in May, which was a turnaround from a net outflow of $640.84 million recorded in the same period last year.

“According to the BSP, the reversal was attributed to investors’ strong confidence in the economy and positive quarterly corporate results,” he said.

Foreign investors are looking at the Philippines to be the locator of key industries in the region.

For instance, Belmonte said Japanese companies are considering the Philippines their manufacturing hub in ASEAN due to the steady robust performance of the local economy.

“According to our trade and industry officials, the country and Japan are holding an Industrial Cooperation Dialogue to assess how the Philippines can be a further viable destination for industrial foreign investments by Japanese firms, for human development, and for enhancing competitiveness of the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” he added.

Banking deregulation bill now with Malacanang

Belmonte said the ratification of the bill allowing the full entry of foreign banks was also a positive development. It has been transmitted to Malacanang for the President’s signature.

The Act provides that the Monetary Board may authorize foreign banks to operate in the Philippine banking system through: acquiring, purchasing, or owning up to 100 percent of the voting stock of an existing bank; investing in up to 100 percent of the voting stock of a new banking subsidiary incorporated under the laws of the Philippines; and establishing branches with full banking authority.

The House leader said that his cha-cha proposal continued to gather support from the business community, members of the academe, and constitution experts.

Recently, former Constitutional Commission delegate member and now University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) research head Bernardo Villegas backed the cha-cha move, stressing that now is the time that the Philippines should open the country to direct foreign investments considering that some of its neighboring countries are very aggressive.

“Former ConCom member Villegas stated it is clear that these restrictive economic provisions in our Constitution are harming our foreign direct investments. We thank him for helping open the minds of Filipinos on the significance and necessity of undertaking cha-cha now,” Belmonte said.


By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
June 25, 2014 
Read more: http://www.interaksyon.com/business/89855/speaker-belmonte-renews-push-for-charter-change-in-economic-provisions