P65B worth of ecozones still await Palace nod
The year is almost over and there are still economic zones that have yet to receive Malacañang’s approval, putting on hold more than P65 billion worth of development projects.
As of Nov. 16, 45 economic zones registered under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) are still awaiting final approval in the Office of the President, languishing despite increasing public pressure from some members of the business community to fast-track the approval process.
This was disclosed by a source familiar with the issue, who requested to remain anonymous given the sensitivity of the topic. The source said the total project cost of the pending applications reached P65.42 billion.
Projects to develop economic zones need the approval of Malacañang before development could officially begin. This also means that the companies that would be based in the economic zone, also known as the locators, would have to wait for Malacañang’s green light before commencing with their investments.
The source told the Inquirer that there was an issue between Peza Director General Charito Plaza and Malacañang, particularly since Plaza has been pinning the blame on the Palace for the delay in the proclamations.
Other than that, the legal team of the Office of the President is “quite slow,” the source added.
The source did not expound on the current makeup of the backlog. However, based on Peza’s previous updates, most of these projects were investments to put up buildings to house IT-BPM companies.
The property market has been taking notice of this, too. According to the recently released third-quarter office briefing of real estate services firm KMC Savills Inc., the “delays in granting Peza certification for certain office buildings have become concerning.”
The number of projects in the backlog has gone up and down in the past months, most likely because Peza has been registering fresh investment pledges to develop economic zones.
Plaza previously said that there were 46 economic zones in the backlog as of July with a total project cost of at least P30 billion. Then, in October, she told reporters that the number had gone up to 58.
Asked for an update, Plaza told the Inquirer that the Office of the Executive Secretary promised her more than 20 economic zones would be proclaimed.
“We are waiting for 20 plus [presidential proclamations for economic zone development] to be released. I hope [it would be released] before the year ends,” she said in a text message.
Pledges to develop economic zones largely make up the investment commitments registered under Peza this year.
Overall Peza investments grew nearly 90 percent in the first 10 months of the year. From January to October, investments grew 89.28 percent to P203.18 billion from P107.34 billion in the same period last year.
While in constant growth, it remains to be seen if Peza would be able to hit its own yearend target.
Plaza previously said that the agency wanted to close the year with at least P654.54 billion worth of pledges and even as much as P872.72 billion, which meant they would have to grow 200 to 300 percent.
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