Bill on foreign ownership okayed

THE measure that allows full foreign ownership in the public service sector was approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 78 or the Philippine Service Act got 136 affirmative votes, 43 negative and one abstention.

The bill intends to amend Commonwealth Act 146 which limits the definition of a public utility to public services including transportation, communication and power industries.

The present law provides that foreign companies or individual may own only 40 percent of the business in the country and they should always have a Filipino counterpart that owns the 60 percent.

The approved bill likewise limits the coverage of public utilities to distribution of electricity, transmission of electricity, water pipeline distribution system and sewerage pipeline system.

Under HB 78, public service will cover “common carrier, railroad, street railway, subway motor vehicle, ice refrigeration plant, irrigation system, marine railways, wire or wireless communications systems; wire or wireless broadcasting stations; freight or carrier services, steam boats ferries and war craft engaged in the transportation of passengers or freight, gas, electric light, heat and power water supply and power, petroleum and sewerage system, among others.”

Deputy Speaker and AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin, principal sponsor of the measure, explained that HB 78 would bring in more foreign investors that would boost competition in the public service sector in the local market.

Garin stressed that the proposed law would eventually benefit consumers.