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Poe to NEDA: Fast-track IRR of Public Service Act

Senator Grace Poe on Friday called on concerned government agencies to expedite the release of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Public Service Act (PSA), which eases restrictions on foreign capital investments on certain industries.

The Public Service Act, signed on March 21, 2022 by then-President Rodrigo Duterte, amends the 85-year-old Commonwealth Act No. 146 by relaxing restrictions on foreigners to completely own businesses in the country, but with clear safeguards.

"I would like to appeal to the executive, particularly the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), to speed up the drafting of the IRR so that the benefits of the Public Service Act will finally be realized," she said.

"It is in the law that within six months from the effectivity of the measure, the IRR shall be ready."

The Public Service Act specifically allows full foreign ownership of businesses in select industries such as telecommunications, airlines and railways.

The said law, however, does not cover public utility vehicles, water, electricity, petroleum pipelines and seaports.

"The final law has been a product of years of deliberation and inputs by various stakeholders to ensure its soundness and positive impact on the lives of our people. It's time we reap its benefits," Poe said.

Aside from the Public Service Act, the Duterte administration also passed the Foreign Investments Act and the Trade Liberalization Act to allow more foreign capital and boost the economy grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We hope the IRR will be out soon. It's the broken thread to the full implementation of the PSA," Poe said.

"We may have an effective law, but we need one with clear guidelines to be implementable," she added.

NEDA chief Arsensio Balisacan responded by saying that the delay was due to proposals made by both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

"NEDA received the signed copy of the final draft IRR on Nov 10, 2022. However, NEDA subsequently received comments and proposed revisions from both houses of Congress on specific sections of the draft IRR," Balisacan said.

"We had to reconvene the 21-member inter-agency committee to discuss the changes. Given the modifications, we recirculated the final version of the IRR for the concurrence and signature of the heads of the 21 agencies. We expect to publish the IRR before the end of the month," Balicasan added. —Llanesca T. Panti/KBK, GMA Integrated News