MANILA BIZ GROUP URGING CHANGES TO RESTRICTIVE ECONOMIC LAWS

Given the strong interest by foreign investors in the country, the government should consider making amendments now to the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to attract more investments and achieve inclusive growth, the Makati Business Club (MBC) said. “The MBC believes that the opportune moment for addressing the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution regarding foreign land ownership and equity participation is now upon us,” the group said in a statement yesterday. President Aquino has earlier said though that he does not support making amendments to the Constitution.

ALSO: Gov’t employees to have laptops

The government will purchase at least 250,000 laptops in three years as part of the Integrated Government Philippines (iGovPhil) project, which aims to turn national government employees into “e-civil servants.” Budget Undersecretary Richard Moya said they have finished the technical study and other requirements for the public bidding of the P1.8-billion project. “You don’t have to procure them, they will fall on your laps,” Moya said in his presentation at the start of the three-day iGovPhil forum held at the UP Ayala Technohub along Commonwealth Avenue, in Diliman, Quezon City yesterday. Under the program, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will procure 95,000 laptops in 2014, 80,000 in 2015 and the remaining laptops in 2016 or until all national government employees from Salary Grade 4 and above each have a laptop.


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MBC urges changes to restrictive economic laws

MANILA, DECEMBER 23, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Louella D. Desiderio- Given the strong interest by foreign investors in the country, the government should consider making amendments now to the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to attract more investments and achieve inclusive growth, the Makati Business Club (MBC) said.

“The MBC believes that the opportune moment for addressing the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution regarding foreign land ownership and equity participation is now upon us,” the group said in a statement yesterday.

The MBC said it is imperative that the country takes advantage of the opportunity to amend the portions of the Constitution that could further propel the country towards full progress while there is strong interest from overseas investors and there is a level of confidence that government officials would not take advantage of the amendment process to advance political agendas.

In particular, the group said it supports House Joint Resolution No. 1 filed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.

“We believe that this proposal—for the House and the Senate to surgically amend the restrictive economic provisions by inserting the phrase ‘unless otherwise provided by law,’ requiring the endorsement of 3/4 of each chamber, submitting the amendments to the public for approval in a plebiscite, to be followed by the necessary legislation - is a safe, streamlined, and effective way of pursuing this most significant undertaking,” the group said.

The Constitution sets a 40-percent limit on foreign ownership in the following activities: development of natural resources, investment in areas recommended by the national and planning agency to be of national interest, operation of public utility franchises, and educational institutions, except those established by religious or mission groups.

Engagement in the advertising industry meanwhile, is limited to firms that are at least 70 percent Filipino owned.

Those which are only open to Filipino citizens are agricultural lands of public domain, ownership and management of mass media, as well as holding of executive and managing positions in the advertising industry.

The MBC said granting foreigners greater access to the Philippine economy does not equate to the diminution of Filipinos’ sovereign rights and the deprivation of economic opportunities for the Filipino people.

Even when the provisions on foreign ownership limits are amended the group said domestic interests could be protected through sensible legislation and regulation coupled with close monitoring of foreign investors’ compliance with Philippine laws, especially on the social and environmental impact of their participation in the economy.

Rather than depriving Filipinos the means to improve their lives, it noted that the expected increase in investment flows as a result of relaxing foreign ownership restrictions would translate to the acceleration of much-needed jobs generation and contribute to poverty alleviation, which are requisites for inclusive growth.

“The business community believes that increasing foreign participation in our economy would be a welcome development, as it would mean a fresh infusion of financial resources for our undercapitalized sectors, the introduction of new technologies to spur greater innovation and efficiency in our industries, and the promotion of healthy competition that will lead to better-quality and more competitively priced products and services for the people,” it said.

While the group recognizes that the removal of the Constitution’s restrictions on foreign ownership is not the only factor that would lead to greater foreign direct investment flows to the country, it is time for government to make a move now given the realities and challenges of the global marketplace.

“Let us set this initiative in motion now and ensure that our country does not miss the boat to national competitiveness and progress,” it said.

President Aquino has earlier said though that he does not support making amendments to the Constitution.

Gov’t employees to have laptops By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2013 - 12:00am 37 1852 googleplus1 35

MANILA, Philippines - Government employees will soon have their own laptops.

The government will purchase at least 250,000 laptops in three years as part of the Integrated Government Philippines (iGovPhil) project, which aims to turn national government employees into “e-civil servants.”

Budget Undersecretary Richard Moya said they have finished the technical study and other requirements for the public bidding of the P1.8-billion project.

“You don’t have to procure them, they will fall on your laps,” Moya said in his presentation at the start of the three-day iGovPhil forum held at the UP Ayala Technohub along Commonwealth Avenue, in Diliman, Quezon City yesterday.

Under the program, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will procure 95,000 laptops in 2014, 80,000 in 2015 and the remaining laptops in 2016 or until all national government employees from Salary Grade 4 and above each have a laptop.

The iGovPhil project of the Department of Science and Technology seeks to lay out efficient electronic or e-government infrastructure and systems in the country.

The project also requires government employees to use the official gov.ph e-mail address for official electronic communications either in inter-government transactions or correspondence, or in dealing with the public and to provide secure and efficient websites to national government agencies.

Moya said government agencies should start using the e-government infrastructure and other facilities being pushed by the national government through the iGovPhil project.

“We spend P3 billion in paper and half-a-billion more in air-conditioning for the various independent data centers every year.... Interconnecting government agencies will save us billions in terms of time and money,” he said.

“E-government needs e-civil servants,” he added.

The laptops will reportedly be replaced every three years.

A government employee will be given the option to buy the laptop at 10 percent of its cost after three years.

 


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