Philippines 11th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List

This one slipped under my radar – I’d known it was coming but it was only pointed out to me last night that Philippines President Duterte had signed it into law on October 29th this year.

So what is the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) and why does it matter?

The Philippines is widely regarded as having one of the highest barriers to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in SE Asia – as a minor example you can refer back to my article about buying property in the Philippines as a foreigner which talks about some of the restrictions on land and property ownership. The FINL describes the restrictions on foreign investments and the practice of professions and describes those specific investment areas/activities where foreign-equity participation is limited. This might be for reasons of defense, public health risks, protection of local enterprise or Constitutional reasons. Every few years the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reviews the list and makes recommendations for Executive Order approval. The most recent review (the 11th) is President Duterte’s first and the amendments are very much in line with his desire to open up the Philippines to more FDI and encourage his “Build, Build, Build” campaign.

The full Executive Order is here but, in a nutshell, the new FINL will now allow up to 100 percent foreign participation in:

(1) Internet businesses, excluding “mass media”;

(2) Teaching at higher education levels provided the subject being taught is not a professional subject (i.e., included in a government board or bar examination);

(3) Training centers that are engaged in short-term high-level skills development that do not form part of the formal education system (under TESDA or CHED);

(4) Insurance adjustment companies, lending companies, financing companies and investment houses;

(5) Wellness centers.

Of particular interest to a lot of foreigners engaged in building and construction, the 11th FINL also eases restrictions from the previous 25% to 40% foreign participation in contracts for construction and repair of locally funded public works (except those that are foreign funded or assisted and required to undergo international competitive auction).

Now, if only the land ownership side of things can be freed up, I can start considering that beachfront property in Palawan that I’ve had my eye on.

If anyone is interested in knowing more about how to access markets in the Philippines, give me a yell.

 

Local Filipino Festivals 2nd – 8th Dec. 2018

Dec. 2 to 5: Palayan City’s founding anniversary

The city of Palayan in Nueva Ecija province celebrates its 53rd anniversary.

Former President Diosdado Macapagal issued Proclamation No. 495, designating Dec. 5, 1965, as the date of the formal organization of Palayan City, also known as the rice granary of the Philippines.

Activities include a job fair, community service caravan, first aid olympics, zumba fest and “larong Pinoy” (traditional Filipino street games).

Dec. 8: Pag-alad Festival

The town of San Fernando, Romblon province, gives thanks and praise to its patron saint, Mary Immaculate Conception, for blessings in the past year.

 

Free WiFi Hotspots in the Philippines

Anyone who’s ever spent much time in the Philippines would be aware that local WiFi access can be somewhat “challenging” at times. Even the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry admits that it has among theslowest and expensive Internet access not only among the ASEAN member states but also globally” 

Nonetheless, progress is being made towards broadening access to locals and visitors with the progressive roll-out of Pipol Konek via the Philippines Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). Pipol Konek is a free public access facility with (currently) around 2000 live sites nationwide including ~700 in Manila NCR and ~130 in Cebu. The ultimate objective is to have 200,000 live sites by 2022.

The daily data limits certainly aren’t huge – 50Mb for instant access and up to 300Mb for registered users – but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Full details, including instructions and a live map of sites, are at the Pipol Konek website.

 

 

 

The Philippines’ top court hears arguments for legalisation of same sex marriage

This week, in an historic first, the Philippines Supreme Court is hearing arguments for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

In a move that’s surprising to some, President Duterte has expressed his in-principle support to same sex unions.

Boracay Closed to Tourism for 6 Months

Boracay in central Philippines and one of the most famous and well visited holiday spots in the country will be closed to tourism for at least the next 6 months.

With well over 2 million visitors in 2017 in an area of just 4 square km’s, Boracay has been getting increasingly crowded and infrastructure strained over the past few years. For those who’ve been there recently it’s, frankly, starting to resemble the Aussie Bogans’ playground of Kuta in Bali (The Ugly Australian is such a blight on our beautiful island neighbour that even Australians pause before booking a holiday there.”). To be fair, the issues in Boracay are related more to genuine infrastructure capacity, rather than the Aussie tendency to foul their own nests. But I digress…………

President Duterte issued the order in February (“I’ll give you six months……Clean the goddamn thing!”). Residents will be allowed to come and go, but both local and foreign tourists will be blocked at the mainland ferry port starting April 26. The nearby airports of Caticlan and Kalibo will continue operating as they are located on the mainland, but Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air have both confirmed they will offer refunds and rebooking.

Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) Anniversary

20180316_113903.jpgIt would be extremely remiss of me if I didn’t offer my thanks to Executive Director Dr. Jaime Montoya for inviting me to participate in the 36th Anniversary of the PCHRD in Manila recently. The theme this year was “Social Innovations in Health” and the keynote was presented by Dr. Bernadette Ramirez, World Health Organization’s (WHO) scientist and herself a local Filipina.

My special appreciation to my good friends Professor Nilo Bugtai from DLSU and Merlita Opeña from the PCHRD for hosting me – I’m looking forward to returning the hospitality in Australia soon!