I vote “No” on House Bill No. 59 which further inordinately allows foreigners to own and operate retail stores in the Philippines.
Our economic leaders’ excessive predisposition to attracting foreign investments is grossly unpatriotic, even as the thesis that abandoning the nationality barriers will lead to the rapid entry of foreign capital is purely theoretical.
The factors which attract or disincentivize foreign investments are:
Ease or difficulty of doing business;
Adequate or insufficient infrastructure;
Predictability of government policies or the lack of the same;
Cheap or expensive electric service; and
Presence or absence of internet speed.
Verily, nationality or citizenship requirements in some vital industries is not a factor, like in the retail trade.
In 2000, the proponents of the liberalization of the retail trade propagandized that the proposal would enhance competition, increase employment, facilitate transfer of technology and improve the national economy.
House Bill No. 23 which was filed as far back as the first regular session of the 11th Congress, in its explanatory note, stated that:
“The opening up of the retail trade sector to foreign investments will benefit the economy, in general, and the Filipino consumers, in particular. As the industry is open to foreign equity participation, we expect to see the same positive results:
Enhance competition and efficiency in the industry.
Additional tax revenues to the government.
Enhanced tourism and export markets.”
Despite the enactment of RA 8762 or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, these objectives were never realized.
Now comes House Bill No. 59 which further liberalizes the retail trade by lowering the required minimum capital for foreign retail investors from US $2.5 million to $200,000 or approximately only PHP 10 million. Even if an additional 100 foreign retailers will come in, only a minimum of $20 million will be generated in foreign investments. This is a paltry foreign investment which should not warrant the further marginalization of Filipino retailers.
Moreover, the bill assures that foreign investment in retail trade could be repatriated with ease by mere prior notice to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Trade and Industry.
The aggregate cost of stock inventory of foreign retailers of products made in the Philippines is reduced from 30% to only 10%, curiously and ironically under the section captioned “Promotion of locally manufactured products”. This is counterproductive and would discourage the production of local products.
The alienization of vital public utilities like capital intensive telecommunications enterprises as well as of medium and small retail businesses is utterly anti-Filipino and violative of the Constitution which mandates for the development of “a self-reliant independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos.”
H.B. No. 59 promises the Holy Grail of foreign investments. This is empty braggadocio destitute of empirical anchorage.
For all the foregoing, I vote “No”.