A SENATE committee on Thursday approved in principle measures that reduce the minimum paid-up capital for foreign companies seeking to enter the retail sector.
Senate Bill No. 14 filed by Senator Franklin M. Drilon and Senate Bill no. 921 under Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian proposed to amend Republic Act No. 8762, or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000, seeking to increase foreign direct investments in the sector via reduced capital requirements.
“There is really a need to liberalize. Even friends in the retail business… agree (on the need) to liberalize,” Mr. Drilon, the Minority Leader, said at a hearing conducted by the chamber’s Committee on Trade.
Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Vice Chairman Roberto S. Claudio said however, that the PRA does not want amendments to be “anti-Filipino,” saying that RA 8762 was initially meant to protect small Filipino entrepreneurs.
He also said that the PRA was one of the drafters of RA 8762.
“The premise then was not to protect the retail industry. It was to protect the small Filipino entrepreneur. Retailing is in fact the easiest entry point for any entrepreneur to get into. And we are speaking on their behalf,” Mr. Claudio added.
The committee will further discuss measures to protect micro and small Filipino entrepreneurs from foreign retailers entering the industry.
In the House of Representatives, House Bill 9057 was approved at the committee level and is set for plenary approval.
The measure also passed the final reading in the House during the 17th Congress but failed to pass in the Senate.
The Cabinet economic cluster priority bills for the first regular session of the 18th Congress included the measure.
A total of 14 domestic and foreign business groups cited the need for such legislation in a list of measures sent to Malacañang and Congress. — Marc Wyxzel C. dela Paz