THE House of Representatives gave its nod to a bill allowing more foreigners to practice their profession in the country and lowering the direct local hires required of foreign investors.

Voting 201-6, the chamber favored House Bill No. 300 that will amend Republic Act No. 7042 or the Foreign Investment Act of 1997 if enacted into law. Seven lawmakers abstained.

The bill amends Section 4 of RA 7042 to exclude the “practice of professions” from the coverage of the foreign investment negative list, which identifies economic areas or sectors where foreign participation is restricted or banned.

It also lowers the employment threshold from 50 to 15 direct employees for small and medium-sized enterprises established by foreign investors with a minimum paid-up capital of U.S.$100,000.

In her sponsorship speech of the bill, House economic reform committee chair and AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin said the measure would attract more foreign direct investments, which, she said, have persistently remained at low levels.

Garin also quelled fears against allowing foreign skilled professionals to work in our country, citing Filipinos’ ability to compete overseas and the Professional Regulation Commission’s safeguards on professions.

“By working with professionals from more advanced countries, Filipinos gain fresh perspectives and new knowledge, broadening the skills set they may already have,” the lawmaker claimed.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said she opposed the approval of the bill because it was not thoroughly discussed, and would burden small and medium companies with additional competitors.

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, meanwhile, questioned the “disjointed” count of congressmen present at the plenary as well as the result of the voting. 

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