Camacho urges PH to review foreign ownership limits

Posted at 05/23/14 12:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Finance Secretary Lito Camacho says restrictions on foreign ownership should be reviewed if the Philippines wants to stay ahead of its Asian neighbors.

Camacho, who is now the vice-chairman for Asia-Pacific at Credit Suisse, points out industries like media don't have to be 100-percent Filipino-owned.

He added relaxing foreign ownership restrictions doesn't necessarily require Constitutional revisions, especially when it comes to properties.

He noted there are mechanisms that will allow more foreign investments to enter the country.

"I don't think you have to change the constitution. When I was Secretary of Finance, we undertook a proposal that unfortunately I wasn't able to complete, which was to create the concept of lease-holds, negotiable lease-holds... You see that in the UK, Singapore. You don't have to own the property, you can just own lease-hold rights. The important thing is its simple, bankable, negotiable and so on," he told ANC.

Camacho adds the implementation of public private partnership projects should not be delayed.

He says the need to make quick decisions should go hand-in-hand with the government's anti-corruption campaign.

"I think this is where the current government has to have a balance between the need to make sure to have good governance but at the same time to be able to facilitate, accelerate the processing of applications for new investments, including power plants. Intuitively, if you're focused on governance, people will be more hesitant to make quick decisions. i think we've seen that in many situations, including the PPP program. So I think there should also be a focus of the government, beyond governance of promoting investments, job creation," he said.

Camacho also noted the Philippines should strengthen institutions so it wouldn't matter who becomes president in 2016.