To Address Concerns of Foreign Investors; One-Stop Shop Action Center Sought

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Byline: BERNIE CAHILES MAGKILAT

Joint foreign business chambers have pushed for the creation of a super body one-stop shop action center (OSAC) directly reporting to the President to address all concerns of foreign investors in the country.

This was the position of the Joint Foreign Chambers submitted to Trade and Industry Secretary Juan B. Santos supporting an earlier proposal of the Trade Chief for the creation of OSAC to address the concerns of existing foreign investors.

The present OSAC, now housed at the Board of Investments, is not much of help to investors as its function is rather limited to entertaining inquiries of potential investors and general concerns on how to do business in the country. It is rather lethargic in the sense that government representatives from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Industrial Estate Association are on call basis only when there are investors to brief on.

But the foreign chambers would like the proposed OSAC of Santos to be an effective, powerful and dynamic one.

"This body should be given sufficient leeway and discretion towards the achievement of one principal purpose, which is to address all major concerns related to foreign investments in the Philippines. To better implement its mandate, this body should report directly to the President and should have effective control and influence over all investment-related agencies of government," the foreign chambers said.

Among the possible functions of the body will be to rationalize all laws and regulations directly or indirectly related to the need to attract more foreign investments into the country and likewise to protect the operations of existing investments.

One-stop shop action center sought

The proposed OSAC will also coordinate the implementation of all of these investment-related laws by the different government agencies tasked with the same for the purpose of having uniformity in implementation and prevent confusion.

It should effectively recommend the passage of new legislation and the repeal or amendment of existing ones to effectively address forthcoming concerns of foreign investors and address current concerns of existing investors.

The Joint Foreign Chambers also enumerated the five major concerns among investors which they believed have not been properly addressed by the government.

These concerns include: lack of transparency, inconsistency in the actual implementation of government policies, non-familiarity by certain administrative agencies of existing bilateral agreements, restrictions in some laws to foreign investments, and non-familiarity of government agencies in regard to the business operations of certain specialized industries or sectors. …