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Marina to draft IRR of newly approved Public Service Act

Marina to draft IRR of newly approved PSA
Genivi Verdejo April 13, 2022

THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) will help draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law lifting restrictions on foreign investments in public services.

Marina Administrator Robert Empedrad also vowed to protect Filipino shipowners engaged in the inter-island trade against the impact of Republic Act (RA) 11659 or "An Act Amending Commonwealth Act No. 146 otherwise known as the Public Service Act (PSA)."

On March 21, 2022, President Duterte signed RA 11659, which allows up to 100 percent foreign ownership of companies engaged in so-called public services such as telecommunications, shipping, air carriers, railway and subways to attract foreign investments into public services.

"Shipowners in domestic shipping fear the new law would be detrimental to their businesses and expect these would be gradually taken over by foreign investors, particularly Chinese businessmen," Marina said.

Empedrad, one of the people tasked to draft the IRR, assured local shipowners that Marina would protect them and provide assistance to help them compete against foreign investors joining the inter-island trade.

"We don't want our domestic shipping to be on the disadvantaged side. Foreign ships should register under the Philippine flag so that they will be manned by Filipino seafarers. We will also help our domestic shipyards so they can increase profitability. To enable domestic shipping lines to compete with foreign ships, we will give incentives to domestic shipowners."

"In the end, commuters will benefit from the good competition. We can provide ships on all islands which will improve the transport of goods and will lower the prices of commodities. We will draft the IRR, and I hope we can finish before my term ends," he said.

Meanwhile, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) was among the groups that lauded the signing of RA 11659, which will attract global players to help modernize the Philippine public services such as telecommunications, shipping, air carriers, railways and subways.

GPCCI said the increased competition is seen to generate a higher quality of service and competitive pricing for consumers.

GPCCI Executive Director Christopher Zimmer said this game-changing law shall break major economic barriers in the country and will be beneficial for economic recovery.

GPCCI President Stefan Schmitz said, "The passage of the amendments of the PSA harmonizes with the recently passed amendments to Retail Trade Liberalization Act and Foreign Investment Act". With these laws enacted, we are confident that the country can attract many investors in various sectors and will benefit Filipinos by improving basic services and creating more jobs."

GPCCI is the official representation of German businesses in the Philippines with around 300 members, and a service provider to companies in their market entry and expansion.