Senators gave their final nod to the bill that would further open up the Philippine retail sector to more foreign investors by lowering their required paid-up capital.
On Wednesday, May 19, senators were able to approve on third and final reading Senate Bill (SB) No. 1840 – which amends Republic Act No. 8762 or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 – just minutes after they approved the measure on second reading.
A total of 20 senators voted in favor of SB 1840, with no other member rejecting it or abstaining from the vote.
The Senate was able to do away with the 3-day mandatory interval between the second and third readings of bills after President Rodrigo Duterte certified SB 1840 as urgent.
Foreign retailers in the Philippines are currently required to have a paid-up capital of US$2.5 million or P119.67 million.
But if SB 1840 is passed into law, the measure would be significantly lowered to P50 million or about US$1 million.
Senate committee on trade, commerce, and entrepreneurship chairman Aquilino Pimentel III was initially proposing an even lower minimum paid-up capital of P15 million.
But Pimentel later accepted Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto’s proposal to set the paid-up capital for foreign retailers at P50 million instead.
“That amount protects small [businesses], it protects a portion of the medium [enterprises]. That’s acceptable to me, Mr. President. I accept,” said Pimentel.
The House of Representatives already approved its own version of the measure, House Bill No. 59, way back in 2019. But the lower chamber’s proposed paid-up capital for foreign retailers is at US$200,000 or P9.57 million.
This means the Senate and the House would have to convene a bicameral conference committee to thresh out the disagreeing provisions in their respective versions.
Once legislators are able to reconcile their conflicting provisions, the bill can be sent to Malacañang for Duterte’s signature. – Rappler.com
Exchange rate: US$1 = P47.84