THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said Congress needs to pass laws further opening up the economy to foreign investment by August to help the economy recover from the impact of the pandemic.

PCCI President Benedicto V. Yujuico in the chamber’s online Sulong Pilipinas event proposed plans to improve the competitiveness of Philippine business, including tourism recovery plan and laws facilitating foreign direct investment.

The PCCI is asking Congress to pass the Public Service Act, Foreign Investment Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the Liberalization of the Agriculture sector by August.

These bills would open up full foreign ownership for more sectors like telecommunications and reduce the required minimum paid-up capital for foreign entrants into the retail sector.

The chamber urged the government to improve digital tools and connectivity, saying that the government should implement the national ID system to help connect and digitalize government functions.

Mr. Yujuico said the National Telecommunications Commission should increase the number of internet service providers, and backed a proposed bill that allows for infrastructure sharing among service providers.

“The executive and legislative branches of government should certify the Open Access in Data Transmission Bill as urgent and ensure its passage into law by July 2020.”

The chamber proposed plans to help aid people affected by the crisis, saying that the government should pass a bill that would provide guidelines for non-government organizations and the private sector to effectively offer aid to affected communities.

The chamber proposed that the government create a system where small farmers can deliver produce to food hubs in cities and provinces, with prices to be regulated by local governments.

The PCCI also recommended that the collaboration between agriculture and manufacturing be strengthened, prioritizing homegrown resources and raw materials and improving product specialization.

Mr. Yujuico said that the government should allow the operation of public transportation while adhering to safety standards, and proposed sustainable transportation measures including wider pedestrian and bike lanes.

He added that the government should align law and order initiatives with good governance.

“The Department of National Defense (DND), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should reaffirm their commitment to the rule of law and to defend and uphold the constitution, as well as engage multi-sectoral dialogues to promote cooperation rather than animosity across sectors of the society within the next two months.”

Mr. Yujuico said that the government should offer flexible learning materials, free wifi connection, and access to computers for both students and teachers before the start of the next school year. — Jenina P. Ibañez