Bill amending foreign ownership in Senate

As Senate Bill that will allow full foreign ownership of public services like expressways has become a cause for concern for one senator.

A proposed law is seeking to amend certain provisions of the Commonwealth Act 146 or Public Service Act (PSA), to ease foreign ownership restrictions of public utilities. The bill hopes to add tollways among the public services, and allow foreign entitites to have full ownership of the infrastructure.

Under existing laws, tollways have foreign ownership restrictions. The PSA was signed into law 85 years ago.

Senate Bill (SB) 2094 may change all this. The bills enumerates services like transmission and distribution of electricity, and water and sewerage systems as public utilities, while persons and institutions that are not classified as public utilities will be classified as a “public service”. This is where the concern grows, as control and maintenance of expressways will be left open to full-foreign ownership.

“We are tiptoeing into some national security land mines, so to speak,” said Senator Francis Tolentino during the senate’s plenary session on Tuesday.

The senator also added that it might become dangerous, especially when foreign state-owned companies will be allowed to construct or control new expressways which are near vital government installations, like dams, military bases or powerplants.

“Any major blockage or shutting down of tollways would effectively derail the economy and paralyze the government’s disaster and emergency response,” Tolentino added, after alluding to the country’s current territorial dispute with China.

China is also known to loan or fund different big ticket government projects around the globe.

Senator Grace Poe, who’s also a sponsor of the new SB, has assured that Sen. Tolentino’s concerns will be considered for possible amendments to the proposed law, while maintaining that certain safeguards were already in place to keep the country’s interests a top priority.

Do you think a fully foreign owned expressway could provide better service to the motoring public? Share your thoughts on the comments section below.