Business groups send wish list of bills pre-SONA

PHILIPPINE business groups and foreign chambers are recommending the passage of 24 priority legislative measures in the incoming 19th Congress.

In a letter sent to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. on July 20, business groups and foreign chambers advocated legislative reforms which they recommend the government seek to enact in the 19th Congress.

The letter was sent ahead of the President’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) and the opening of the 19th Congress’s first regular session. Copies were given the incoming House Speaker and Senate President and key Cabinet officials.

The key legislative measures on their list are: Liberalization of Foreign Equity Restrictions  in the Constitution; Open Access in Data Transmission; Ease of Paying Taxes; Promotion of Digital Payments.

The groups are also asking the government to seek the enactment of amendments to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) for Hybrid/Flexible Work Schedules.

Freedom of Information; Property Valuation and Assessment Reform; Capital Income and Financial Taxes Reform; amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law/ Public-Private Partnership Act and the Secrecy of Bank Deposits law, are also among the bills being pushed by the local and foreign business groups.

The groups are also seeking the enactment of National Unemployment Insurance; Department of Disaster Resilience Creation and amendments to the E-commerce Act.

It’s worth noting that the local and foreign business groups are also recommending that the government seek the enactment of a Pandemic Protection Act. Last month, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its attached agencies said they are pushing for approval of the bill in a bid to strengthen the stockpiling of critical health products such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

Local business groups and foreign chambers are also seeking the enactment of Holiday Rationalization Act; Philippine Airports Authority Creation; and amendments to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Charter.

Moreover, they are lobbying for the enactment of amendments to the 25-year-old Intellectual Property Code, which the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is also advocating to help the country keep pace with global legal and technological developments while boosting its attractiveness for tech businesses.

There are also recommendations to enact the Philippine Pension System Portability and Strengthening; Apprenticeship Program Reform; Agricultural Lands Ownership Easing; the repeal of Commonwealth Act 138  (Flag Act); International Maritime Trade Competitiveness Act; and Satellite-based Technologies Promotion Act.

Among the 24 bills mentioned, seven bills reached the advanced stages of approval in the 18th Congress: the Liberalization of Foreign Equity Restrictions in the Constitution; Open Access in Data Transmission; Ease of Paying Taxes; Promotion of Digital Payments; Property Valuation and Assessment Reform (Tax Reform Package 3 under the previous administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program); Capital Income and Financial Taxes Reform (Tax Reform Package 4); and Department of Disaster Resilience.

As the groups congratulated the President and Vice President for winning the elections, they said in the letter that they look forward to working closely with the Marcos-Duterte administration and the 19th Congress.

In relation to this, the groups seek to work with the government in pursuing the advocated reforms and others that will generate substantial impact in achieving inclusive growth through job generation, increased investment, poverty reduction, and improved global competitiveness.

Signatories to the letter are: American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines; IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines; Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines Inc.; Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc.; Makati Business Club; Management Association of the Philippines; Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc.; and Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc.

Image credits: Nonoy Lacza