March 11, 2020
BAYAN says House approval of Public Services Act amendments a sell-out to China, a burden on Filipino consumers
Congress’ approval last night of the bill amending the Public Services Act is a sell-out of the national interest, a threat to national security, and an added burden on consumers and the general public.
That Congress approved the measure while we were all focused on the Covid19 outbreak shows its utter betrayal of the public interest.
The bill limits the definition of public utilities to firms engaged in power distribution and transmission, water distribution and sewerage pipeline. These utilities will still be subject to a 40% limit on foreign ownership and rate regulation.
Other sectors previously categorized as public utilities, like telecommunications, transportation, irrigation systems, public markets, canals, wharfs or docks, will now fall under “public services” and opened up to 100% foreign ownership and deregulation.
Given Duterte’s pivot to China, the bill will facilitate China’s creeping control over strategic services like telecommunications, transportation, our ports and even public markets. This is a national security risk given our conflict with China over the West Philippine Sea.
Of course, the bill will also allow investors from the US, Japan and other imperialist countries to come in, allowing the further plunder our economy.
The bill’s premise that opening up the economy to foreign investments spurs competition and leads to lower prices and improved services has long been discredited. Foreign investors are here to make, not lose, money. Allowing them ownership and control of key service sectors and natural monopolies also gives them the opportunity to manipulate prices at the expense of the consuming public.
Instead of supporting Filipino investors, Congress is helping foreign capitalists, who have much greater resources and market power, to gobble up productive sectors of the economy. Instead of levelling the playing field, Congress is tilting it in favor of foreign capital.
By approving the bill, Congress has shown itself to be a willing instrument of imperialist exploitation and domination.#