Approved investments by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) have gone up to P78 billion as of the first nine months this year as more economic zones are being developed, existing locators continue to expand and new investors are coming back after the wait and see attitude during the election period.
PEZA Officer-in-Charge Justo Porfirio Yusingco said the board in its meeting last week approved 30 new manufacturing projects worth P1.8 billion. They also approved four ecozone developers led by SM Investments’ cyber zone project.
“So far we have now P78 billion or five percent higher than the same period last year,” Yusingco told reporters at the opening of Sykes new office in Alabang.
The growth has put PEZA on track with the five percent growth target for 2016. Traditionally, he said, bigger investments are poured in the last quarter of the year.
According to Yusingco, the nine-month investment inflow was boosted by the expansion projects of existing PEZA locators.
“This means nobody is leaving the Philippines. I don’t see any slowing down of investments after election,” he said.
Investments in ecozone developments account for the bulk of PEZA investments followed by manufacturing.
This is why PEZA is now working closely with DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez on the proposed two-year moratorium of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on land conversion, Yusingco said.
PEZA plans to seek for an exception from the DAR moratorium in consideration of the need for additional ecozone developments.
“As of now, we barely have enough available lots in existing ecozones, we need to increase the number of ecozones because we have the momentum,” Yusingco said.
The DTI Secretary is also the PEZA chair and could bring the issue of ecozone developments during Cabinet meetings, he said.
Yusingco also relayed through Lopez the agency’s position on “endo” or job contractualization because PEZA companies compete in a different situation since they are export-oriented.
As of July this year, PEZA employment slightly improved with 75,000 new jobs created.
“That is why while we cannot be choosy when it comes to investments, we prefer labor intensive projects,” he said.
“We cannot also just implement ‘endo’ in one swoop or else companies will close,” he further noted, adding that because of PEZA’s unique situation, it has a representative in the DOLE.
“We want DOLE to describe what is ‘endo’ because that is now the trend,” said Yusingco. For PEZA, he said “the bottom-line is to protect the interest of workers and there are several ways to do that and if workers are employed through contract of service we make sure workers get everything legally due them (such as) minimum wage and mandatory benefits, but others like security of tenure what if the contract already expired, we cannot strangle the employer.”
Yusingco, the most senior of the deputy Director-General of PEZA, was named OIC of the agency when Atty. Lilia B. De Lima, who served under four presidents spanning over 20 years, chose to retire in May this year.
Last week, Malacañang announced the appointment of another woman to head PEZA. a former lady congressman from Agusan Charito Plaza.
During his short stint as PEZA OIC, Yusingco continued to entertain investment queries, “I assure everybody that the plan is to even further improve PEZA. Of course, we missed DG De Lima but she opted to retire.”
Yusingco said investors are coming back after a wait and see mode during the election period.
There have been some questions on the policies of the new administration, but he downplayed these issues as part of the “birth pains.”
Source: Manila Bulletin