February 24, 2024

House economists urge constitutional update for PH economic boost

TWO economists of the House of Representatives underscored on Monday the urgent need to amend the “restrictive” economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution to address critical challenges facing the Philippine economy and to unleash the country’s full economic potential.

Representatives Stella Quimbo of Marikina City and Joey Salceda of Albay said that such reforms are necessary to attract foreign investment, address under-investment in key sectors like agriculture, and ensure sustainable economic growth for the Philippines.

Quimbo noted that while the Philippines sustained robust economic growth in the last quarter of 2023, she expressed concern over the lagging growth of foreign direct investments (FDIs), emphasizing the need for updates to the constitutional economic provisions.

“The Philippine Statistics Authority has reported robust 5.6% GDP growth in the last quarter of 2023, marking a year of resilient economic performance,” Quimbo, senior vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, pointed out.

“Our pursuit of economic liberalization to date has been cautious and incremental. But the evidence before us calls for a decisive shift,” she added.

For his part, Salceda praised the Philippines’ economic performance, describing it as the fastest growing in ASEAN with near-full employment. 

“This is PBBM’s economy now: the fastest growing in ASEAN, with near-full employment,” said Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

However, he expressed concerns about under-investment in the agriculture sector despite its significant contribution to the economy. 

“We need to back our agriculture sector with sustained public and private investment,” he stressed.

Both Quimbo and Salceda highlighted the potential benefits of economic constitutional reforms, including job creation, higher wages, and increased productivity. 

Quimbo said that economic amendments are essential to invigorate FDI growth.

“The restrictions on foreign equity limit our competitiveness and capacity for innovation,” she said.

Salceda, meanwhile, underscored the need for comprehensive reforms.

“This is the whole point of my strong advocacy for changes in the Constitution: no half-hearted charter amendments, but a full-on confrontation of under-investment in land,” he said.

Quimbo called for swift action, urging the government to prioritize economic Charter change (Cha-cha).

“Econ cha-cha is an urgent and necessary step towards unleashing our full economic potential,” she insisted.