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PEZA @ 27: Milestones, challenges, and preparing for what lies ahead

Monday, March 21, 2022

Pasay City – The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has celebrated its 27th anniversary last Thursday, 17 March 2022, reminiscing its landmarks over the years, pondering upon the challenges at hand, and looking forward to the future with its key stakeholders and partners in promoting the Philippines as an investment haven in Asia.

“As we traverse the last months of the Duterte administration, we proudly look back at what we have accomplished so far, but still, I can’t help but be more excited with what the next years have in store for PEZA. I can assure you that whatever may be thrown our way, PEZA will remain as stalwart, as devoted, and as committed to excellent public service as what we have shown in the past,” said PEZA Director General Charito ‘Ching’ Plaza in her State of PEZA Address.

 

Director General Charito Plaza thanks PEZA’s stakeholders in her State of PEZA Address

 

The Director General noted, “PEZA has lived 27 wonderful years. And as we proceed to the next 27 years of growing, improving, and fighting together, I pray that we all keep the same indomitable spirit and culture of excellence that set us apart from the rest.”

 

Milestones

Looking back, Deputy Director General for Finance and Administration Justo Porfirio Yusingco reminisced in his welcome speech some of the major accomplishments of PEZA in the last 27 years. This includes PEZA’s growth in terms of the number of economic zones and registered companies.

He noted that, “When PEZA took over EPZA (Export Processing Zone Authority), we expanded the number of economic zones. Also, we have multiplied the number of locator companies to more than 4000 registered with us [now].”

To date, PEZA has now a total of 416 economic zones nationwide which hosts 4,661 enterprises venturing into different types of sectors which includes manufacturing and IT-BPO, two of the major industries in the country.

 

Deputy Director General for Finance and Administration Justo Porfirio Yusingco sharing some of PEZA’s milestones over the years during his welcome remarks

 

DDG Yusingco added, “Another major accomplishment was we have reversed our financial situation from being in the red – when PEZA took over, we had P2.8 Billion in arrears because of the loans that EPZA incurred to put up the economic zones. So far, we are doing well. We are now in the black.”

“We are very proud of our financial contribution to the government in terms of taxes, dividends, and debt service. In short, we are not a burden to the government,” he noted.

According to Director General Plaza, PEZA continues to remit 50% of its revenues to the national government. “Since PEZA started, we have already contributed P9.9 billion to the national coffers, P4.5 billion or almost half of which were remitted during the Duterte administration alone. This is because during the early onset of the pandemic, we further increased our dividends to the national government, to aid the government’s social amelioration programs.” 

Moreover, PEZA’s locator companies have accumulated a whopping total of P4.04 trillion in the last 27 years, with about P807.8 billion generated in the last six years.

The export revenues of locator companies in the zones, on the other hand, reached $933.8 billion USD since 1995, $300.6 billion USD or one-third of which were generated during the current administration.  

Exports from PEZA economic zones comprised 17% of the total GDP of the Philippines or $63.1 billion US dollars in 2021.

“No other government agency aside from PEZA can contribute this huge export receipts for the country,” noted the PEZA Chief.

Further, DDG Yusingco affirmed that PEZA continues to perform its very core that is to provide livelihood to people as shown in the increased employment within the economic zones.

It is worth noting that a total of 1,782,913 direct jobs have since been created by PEZA’s economic zone program with 507,071 created during the Duterte administration alone.

 

Challenges

Despite these significant hallmarks, PEZA’s journey has been marked with several trials that even threatened its very existence. In the last three years alone, PEZA and its stakeholders faced the impact of the moratorium on the creation of new economic zones in Metro Manila, the change in the tax regime, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the words of Senator Imee Marcos who was present in the event, “The supply chains have continued to challenge everyone and we now have to think of new ways of doing business. As well, we have seen the so-called rationalization of foreign incentives under the new TRAIN Bill (sic) and the imposition of the new body called the FIRB (Fiscal Incentives Review Board), on top of PEZA, BOI, and the other IPAs.”

 

Senator Imee Marcos delivering her message during PEZA’s 27th anniversary celebration

 

Same sentiments have been echoed by Senator Richard Gordon when he said during the event that, “With the prevailing oil price increases and with the pandemic still staring deep into our eyes and our hearts, the more reason we need incentives and PEZAs to tide us over and to create the necessary employment and thus create the necessary tax-base so that we could actually face up to obligations.”

“At this point in our country’s history, we need our exports more than anything else to go up and re-tide us over our debts and our imbalances in foreign exchange. Therefore, it is important that we would need and require more cooperation from our partners to make sure that our economic recovery is established and immediately fast-tracked,” he noted.

 

Preparing for what lies ahead

Nevertheless, PEZA remains steadfast in performing its mandate and in creating opportunities out of threats to achieve its overarching goal of making the country at its best.

“Like those who have come before us, we must not rest on our laurels. More than the recognition and accolades, we must always remind ourselves of the real reason why we are here. And that is to serve our fellow Filipinos to the best of our ability,” said Director General Plaza.

At present, PEZA continues to implement the plans and programs under its Transformation Road Map, which seeks to fully-industrialize the country, to create an economy that is self-reliant, self-sustaining, resource-generating, and a contributor to the global supply chain, and lastly, to build an economy that is production, manufacturing, digitalized and export-driven.

At the same time, Senators Marcos and Gordon said there are still things to look forward to such as the Foreign Investments Act (FIA), amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the public services liberalization, and the passage of the Regional Investment and Infrastructure Coordinating Hub (RICH) and the creation of the same bill in various islands.

Finally, former Senator Bam Aquino, who represented Vice President Leni Robredo, conveyed during the event that “I hope in the next administration, you will find an economic policy and framework that recognizes the world-class effort that our ecozones, PEZA provides and how your work is able to achieve rebounds to more jobs for our countrymen, to growth in our economy, and equally as important to really raising up our country to be the world-class player that it can be.”

 

 Former Senator Bam Aquino delivering his message on behalf of Vice President Leni Robredo via Zoom during PEZA’s 27th anniversary celebration 

 

As part of the celebration, PEZA conferred the Galing Pinas Partnership Excellence Award to 91 companies and individuals for their constant help and support to PEZA as investment marketing and promotion partners, and in recognition of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects and economic zone development initiatives.

 

[From left to right] OIC Deputy Director General for Operations Atty. Norma Tañag, Deputy Director General for Policy and Planning Tereso Panga, IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) President Mr. Jack Madrid and chief policy and regulatory affairs officer Celeste Ilagan, Director General Charito Plaza, Science Park of the Philippines Inc. (SPPI) Sr. Vice President Jeronimo Salonga, German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) Executive Director Christopher Zimmer, and Deputy Director General for Finance and Administration Justo Porfirio Yusingco

 

Meanwhile, 27 PEZA employees from the Head Office and its Clusters have been given the Galing PEZAn Excellence Award for being recognized as model employees who consistently embody PEZA’s values.

With this, Senator Gordon reminded everyone that “Awards are really not just fillers of the wall but certainly to remind you and all of us that we have to strive more because our purpose is not just for us, not just to gain glory but to make sure we’re able to provide our people with the opportunity, with choice so that poverty will not make them unfortunate folks that have no freedom because they have no choice.”

PEZA celebrated its anniversary last 24 February 2022, 27 years since the passage of Republic Act No. 7916 or The Special Economic Zones Act of 1995. #