Delay in ecozone approval worries investors
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has urged the government to pick up the pace in proclaiming new economic zones, noting that the delay has been causing some concern among investors, a top official said.
PCCI president George Barcelon said the current backlog in economic zones awaiting presidential proclamation was forcing companies to put their investments on hold.
This comes as the PCCI concluded the 43rd Philippine Business Conference and Expo on Thursday with a set of resolutions submitted for the national government’s consideration. The resolutions covered various sectors, including agriculture, energy and education.
While most, if not all, of the resolutions called attention to similar concerns in past business conferences, Barcelon said that this was the first time that they included Peza in the list.
“I cannot blame the government for due diligence. But the point of the investors is that if they’ve done their side with compliance and everything, they would like to get an information about this for their clients who would like to come here,” he said.
Economic zone project proposals have been piling up in Malacañang awaiting presidential proclamation before any of the locators could start setting up shop. As of July, there were 46 economic zones waiting for Malacanang’s green light, 32 of which were buildings meant to house IT-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) firms.
Only six pending ecozone applications were carried over from the previous Aquino administration. This year-long backlog was worth at least P30 billion in terms of ecozone development.
“[Peza Director General Charito Plaza] is aware that this issue is causing some concerns in those that would like to invest in a Peza zone. For example, those buildings that were built for business process outsourcing companies, when you don’t have a proclamation and you are a locator, then you hold back [your investment] because you are not sure,” he said.
Cause of frustration
The delay in the proclamation has also been a cause of frustration for Plaza, who said she had repeatedly asked Malacañang for an explanation about the delay.
Moreover, the delay has been partly blamed by various officials for the decline in new IT-BPM investment pledges under Peza.
According to data from Peza, new investment commitments under the IT-BPM industry fell 21.88 percent from January to September this year, reaching P11.39 billion year-to-date from P14.58 billion in the same period a year ago.
Although still on a decline, this was already an improvement from the industry’s performance earlier this year. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, new IT-BPM pledges fell 30.9 percent under Peza in the first half of the year, reaching P8.48 billion from P12.27 billion in the same semester of 2016.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.