The House of Representatives on Tuesday, December 7, ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act to make the Philippines more accessible to foreign investors.

During the plenary session, the chamber approved the final version that reconciles the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 1156.

The priority measure aims to generate employment opportunities for Filipinos and help strengthen the economy.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the approval of this measure complements the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, in attracting foreign investments, as it reduces the number of direct hires required by foreign employers, from 50 to 15, that would help encourage smaller foreign investors to locate in the Philippines.

“A key thrust of CREATE is to try to invite foreign investors who can contribute to the economy regardless of size,” Salceda said.

He said allowing enterprises identified as “startup enablers” to be fully owned by foreigners will encourage investments in cutting-edge industries that are not yet present in the Philippines.

These areas include financial technology, precision agriculture, health technology, and other higher-order technological enterprises that are crucial to Philippine long-term growth and resilience.

“Startups are solutions-based and the Philippines will not lack for problems that require efficiency-enhancing solutions from tech companies. The FIA amendments, no doubt, are also good news for them,” he said.

He said allowing professions not governed by special laws to be entered in by foreigners also allows the country to learn from professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and other key professions.

“The inability to hire their own professionals has been a key constraint to investors who would otherwise have invested in the Philippines,” he said.

He said subjecting officials involved in investment promotions to the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices also provides an additional safeguard against extortion of potential investors by government officials and is a step towards greater ease of doing business.

Salceda urged the Inter-Agency Investment Promotion Committee, institutionalized under the proposal, to perform its mandate of truly creating new markets for Philippine products and promoting the Philippines as a market and hub for global investments.

He also reiterated his call for the release of the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP) under CREATE, so that the government can use it as a tool to promote the Philippines as an investment destination. (PNA)