--  President Benigno S. Aquino III congratulates Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Sheriff Abas after administering the oath in a ceremony at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (June 30). (MNS photo)

— President Benigno S. Aquino III congratulates Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Sheriff Abas after administering the oath in a ceremony at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (June 30). (MNS photo)

MANILA, July 1 (Mabuhay) — The proposed Fair Competition Act, one of the longest running congressional bills, will reinforce the Philippine economy, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“As the bill levels the playing field among businesses, we can expect an increased level of confidence among the international business community, and thus lead to a surge of investments and economic activity, and an expanded logistical capacity,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Wednesday.

The proposed law now awaits the signature of President Benigno Aquino III. The House of Representatives and the Senate ratified the bill in June, some 24 years after the bill was first introduced in the 8th Congress.

“The passage of this bill follows NEDA’s advocacy to remove or amend some existing laws and regulations that have become irrelevant or unenforceable. It is also aligned with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) which identified this law as a measure that will improve the country’s business climate,” said Balisacan.

The bill stipulates the formation of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), an independent quasi-judicial body that will monitor competition in markets.

The measure also provides for up to P100 million in fines for the first offense against entities found to have been engaged in unfair business practices such as price fixing and monopoly, and up to P250 million for the second offense.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the ratification of the proposed Fair Competition Act as well.

“This law will push businesses to engage in a healthy rivalry… It gives us the incentive to be more efficient and to offer the public better quality products and services,” PCCI President Alfredo Yao said.

Foreign business groups, particularly the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, have long pushed for the enactment of a national policy addressing unfair business practices in the country.

“While this bill will certainly help us move forward, our efforts will remain focused on implementing key reforms in the country. The task at hand is to increase investments, address gaps in our economic system, and reduce barriers hampering productivity and growth…” Balisacan said. (MNS)