BCCP calls for reduced entry barriers for retail

May 25, 2020 News

THE British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) called for the reduction of barriers to entry in the retail industry to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

BCCP Executive Director Chris Nelson in phone interviews last week said the chamber is looking for restrictions on FDI to ease, and supports the reduction of the minimum paid-up capital requirement for foreign entrants to the retail sector.

The chamber also backs the immediate reduction of corporate income tax to 25% from 30%, as well as the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA).

More than 80% of the House of Representatives support the P1.3 trillion PESA, which includes wage subsidies and loan programs.

“What we need is combining a stimulus with reduction in corporate income tax and a reduction in foreign investment restrictions, and finally continued reduction in red tape and bureaucracy,” Mr. Nelson said.

He said these measures would help small and medium-sized businesses that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“One of my biggest concerns in managing the chamber is the middle-sized and medium-sized companies (they) are going to be especially challenged.”

The Board of Investments recorded a 71% drop in investment pledges in the first four months in 2020, including an 80% drop in FDI. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority reported a 30% decline in approved investments in the first quarter.

Mr. Nelson said the chamber recently had an online meeting with Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez to discuss investment measures, including the lifting of local government liquor bans.

Some local governments in Metro Manila recently lifted their bans as the region shifted to a more relaxed modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). The British chamber includes several companies in the alcohol industry, including Diageo Plc.

Meanwhile, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said that it also sees trade and investments declining due to the pandemic.

ECCP President Nabil Francis said in a mobile message Thursday that he is calling on the Philippine government to implement policy reforms that will speed up economic recovery.

“Further liberalizing key economic activities will help generate jobs and make the country more competitive. Among the major economic reforms that the Chamber advocates for include the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, Public Services Act, among others. The Chamber also underscores the need for an attractive incentives package — we need to go big, and we need to do this fast,” he said.

By Jenina P. Ibañez

Source: Business World Online