MANILA — Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) is necessary to streamline the long, tedious and difficult process in applying to do business in the country, Mindanao lawmakers insists.
“Foreign direct investments drive economic productivity: create jobs, raise income levels, transfer production technology, innovative capacity as well as creating access to international marketing networks,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez said.
Together with his younger brother, Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo B. Rodriguez, Jr. penned the proposed Act creating an independent Office for Investor Facilitation and Protection (OIFP) attached to the Office of the President as contained in HB 4838.
The authors noted that FDI is internationally recognized as imperative to both developed and developing economies and benefits from FDI can be seen across the spectrum of activities not only with respect to investible resources but in its corresponding capital formation.
A 2013 World Bank study revealed that the Philippines ranked 138th among 185 economies as regards the ease of doing business. The top five criteria where the country ranked low were in: a) starting a business; b) registration of property; c) paying taxes; d) getting credit; and e) protecting investors.
In weeding through the layers of requirements in starting up a business and in qualifying for any of the investment incentives programs, the investor is confronted by bureaucratic red tape, inconsistent, complex and lengthy procedures, delays and high cost of regulatory processes, Rodriguez laments.
“There is therefore a need to create a government agency/office that can assist in the expeditious facilitation of business investment registration and permits requirements and of the requirements under the investment incentives programs of the government,” the authors stressed.
Acknowledging the continuing efforts to encourage foreign and local investments, Rodriguez noted that the government has launched investment incentives programs administered by thirteen (13) investment promotion agencies (IPAs) like the following: Board of Investment; Philippine Economic Zone Authority; Bases Conversion Development Authority; Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; Clark Development Corporation; Poro Point Management Corporation; and Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone, among others.
The proposed Office for Investor Facilitation and Protection (OIFP) shall:
— Act as a coordinator and integrator for the investor, the IPAs and all other related government agencies or departments with respect to business registration, permits, clearances and endorsements;
— Processes the automatic approval if not acted upon by the appropriate agency or department within the time frame from the endorsement by the OIFP, provided that the documentary requirements are complete and without prejudice to Section 34 of E.O. No. 226 or related laws;
— Acts as protector by a) expeditiously resolving disputes between the investor and the IPAs and other related government agencies and departments with respect to the administration of investment incentives program and grant of the investment incentives; b) and considering that the grant of the particular incentives program to which the investor has qualified and registered is a contract, it shall interpret it and see to it that its provisions are carried out and performed by the parties;
— Establish a mandatory alternative to dispute resolution through consultations or consultative meetings and discussions before referring it to ADR, 1.e., conciliation, mediation, arbitration, or early neutral evaluation to assist and resolve disputes out of court.