De­lays in eco­zone procla­ma­tions fur­ther hurt­ing PEZA per­for­mance

The Philippine Star - - BUSINESS - By RICH­MOND MERCURIO

The pro­longed de­lays in the procla­ma­tion of new eco­nomic zones are fur­ther hurt­ing the out­put of the coun­try’s big­gest in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion agency, which is al­ready reel­ing from un­cer­tain­ties caused by the pro­posed ra­tio­nal­iza­tion of fis­cal incentives un­der the sec­ond tax re­form pack­age.

Philip­pine Eco­nomic Zone Au­thor­ity (PEZA) man­ager for pro­mo­tion and pub­lic re­la­tions Elmer San Pas­cual said pres­i­den­tial procla­ma­tions of eco­nomic zone ap­pli­ca­tions have re­mained few and slow com­pared to those in the past.

“Al­though they are com­ing out with procla­ma­tions, it is not as pre­dictable as be­fore wherein it is sure to be pro­claimed af­ter three months. They ap­proved about four or six in Jan­uary and an­other two or three last Fe­bru­ary,” San Pas­cual said.

“So that pre­dictabil­ity is some­thing we don’t have now and that is also caus­ing some hes­i­ta­tions,” he added.

With in­vestor con­cerns from the sec­ond tax re­form pack­age cited as fac­tors, PEZA’s ap­proved in­vest­ment pledges de­clined 22 per­cent in the first two months of the year to P20.99 bil­lion from P26.81 bil­lion in the same pe­riod of 2017.

San Pas­cual said aside from in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and man­u­fac­tur­ing, pledges for eco­nomic zone de­vel­op­ment, which buoyed PEZA’s to­tal in­vest­ment fig­ures last year, have also slowed.

“How can you have eco­nomic zone de­vel­op­ment if the procla­ma­tion is slow?” San Pas­cual said.

PEZA di­rec­tor gen­eral Char­ito Plaza last year raised con­cern over the de­lays on the procla­ma­tion of new eco­nomic zones that have re­sulted in ap­pli­ca­tions pil­ing up at the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent.

As of end-2017, some P72.4bil­lion worth of eco­nomic zone de­vel­op­ment projects have re­mained un­ap­proved.

Of the 42 pend­ing eco­nomic zones ap­pli­ca­tion as of end last year, 37 came un­der the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion, while five were from the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion. “It’s just the first year in of­fice of Pres­i­dent Duterte so he has new peo­ple in the Palace. So we try to un­der­stand the rea­sons. One is they have new peo­ple in the Palace who are still learn­ing the pro­cesses and then the Palace also has new re­quire­ments,” Plaza ear­lier said when asked about the cause of the de­lays.

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