Press Release
January 19, 2015

Drilon: Senate to focus on laws ensuring sustainable economic growth

With plenary sessions resuming on Tuesday, January 20, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today said that economic measures aiming to improve the nation's business climate and fine-tune its fiscal and economic policies top the Senate's to-do list for 2015.

"In 2014, the Senate passed important legislation on social and health services, and education, such as the law on automatic Philhealth coverage for senior citizens, the Graphic Health Warning Act, and the Iskolar ng Bayan Act. This year, we are directing our efforts to the economic sector, to ensure that the nation's progress will not be hindered by events in the local and global markets," Drilon said.

Drilon added that the Senate will prioritize the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is currently undergoing public hearings.

The senator said that as part of their list of economic reforms, the upper chamber will "harmonize numerous fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and subsidies to foreign and domestic investors, so that the government can avoid redundancies and revenue loss."

He said that they will also look into the proposed amendments of the Build Operate Transfer Law, to address policy gaps identified in the present law: "We need to create a better enabling policy environment for Public-Private Partnerships. We need to invite more investments from the private sector through the most appropriate incentives, and at the same time, our policies need to ensure that the buying public will get fair and reasonable prices and efficient services from such PPP projects or ventures."

Drilon also pointed out that the Senate will study and review options for a new mining fiscal regime for the country, in order to implement "responsible mining policies, with emphasis on improving environmental mining standards and protecting the rights of affected communities, while promoting economic growth." "Our view is that we need to increase the government's share from mining revenues, since it is imperative that the Filipino people must have their fair share in an economic activity such as mining, which involves the extraction of our natural, finite and limited non-renewable resources. The minerals are owned by the Filipino people, and not by those who have mining licenses," he stressed. According to Drilon, the Senate will also work on proposed bills seeking to streamline the operations of government agencies, to improve their ability to deal with and manage the various sectors which greatly contribute to the nation's economic condition.

"The Senate will work on the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, which aims to institute electronic process of import and export, simplify the customs procedure for ordinary citizens, and increase the operating flexibility of the Bureau of Customs, and as well as on the proposed bill on amendments to the charter of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)," Drilon said.

"We will also act on the bill creating a Department of Information and Communications Technology that will be tasked to develop ICT systems and further enhance communication services vital to the country's development," he added. The Senate chief assured that there is a shared awareness between the Congress and the Executive on the need to pass these laws in time for important events in 2015, such as the ASEAN market integration. He said that in 2014, the Senate has already approved its version of the Fair Competition Act and the Sugar Cane Industry Development Act, and that both houses of Congress have allowed the full entry of foreign banks in the country.

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