Pasay City – With a culture of excellence and relentlessly pursuing more investments, exports, and employment, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) celebrated its 28th Anniversary last Friday, 24 February, commemorating milestones achieved and challenges surpassed for the past years in making the Philippines the investment destination in Asia.
PEZA OIC Director General and Deputy Director General for Policy and Planning Tereso O. Panga said, “PEZA’s growth this past 28 years has been phenomenal. It is a milestone for PEZA and to us PEZANs as we continue to be relevant and vibrant with our mandate to spread the development of ecozones nationwide.”
“Given the growth mindset of the PBBM administration, and where the Philippines is in a sweet spot to benefit from the changes around the world, we must continue our shared efforts to contribute in the overall growth and development of our country through the strengthening of our ecozone development program,” OIC Chief Panga added.
Seconded by OIC Deputy Director General Vivian S. Santos, she noted, “With all the triumphs we have attained for more than two (2) decades and in just two (2) months since 2023 begun, I am confident that we are all off to a good start or even better.”
A leading investment promotion agency (IPA) and pioneer in the implementation of the ecozone program, PEZA accounts for at least 80% of the country's total annual exports of goods and services.
112% increase for February investments
Just last 23 February, the PEZA Board has approved a total of 12 new and expansion projects expected to bring in a total of PhP 3.80 Billion of investments. This records an increase of 112% as compared to the PhP 1.792 Billion approved in the same period last year.
Among the approved projects, five (5) are for export manufacturing, three (3) for facilities, one (1) for IT, one (1) for logistics, one (1) for utilities, and one (1) expansion for manufacturing ecozone. These projects will be located in Taguig City, Laguna, Batangas, Tarlac, and Palawan.
OIC Head Panga said, “As of 2023, PEZA has endorsed to the Office of the President a total of 21 ecozone development projects pending for proclamation. Once proclaimed, these projects will bring in PhP 21.207 Billion investments.”
Following PEZA’s positive performance for 2022, the Agency has recorded an increase of 83.69% in investments with the approval of PhP 6.39 Billion of investments from 19 projects during the first Board meeting last January 2023.
Performance for 28 years
During the Agency’s anniversary event, OIC Head Panga reported, “For the past 28 years, PEZA recorded a cumulative total of PhP 4.177 Trillion investments and US$ 998.519 Billion exports from 4,346 locator companies located in our 420 ecozones.”
To date, there are a total of 420 PEZA ecozones nationwide hosting 4,346 locator companies and creating 1.8 million direct jobs.
At the rate PEZA is going now particularly brought by the 103% increase last year, Panga is confident that “PEZA has achieved the level of annual investments approved in 2018. That means that the country’s ecozones and high-performance investments are back to the pre-pandemic, even surpassing the 2018 level. This also entails that we have survived the recovery period and is anticipating an upturn in our economy.”
The PEZA interim chief also added, “A total of 29 new and expansion projects for ecozone development forecasted to bring in PhP 96.215 Billion investments have been approved by the PEZA Board from January to December 2022.”
Bulk of these, or about PhP 90.646 Billion are from the 11 approved projects during the July to December 2022 period.
On key reforms
OIC Director General Tereso Panga also shared that “For 2022, total payment of dividends amounted to PhP 1.542 billion making up for the overall PhP 26.889 billion of remittances to the national government from 1995 to 2022.
Further, from October to December 2022 in his capacity as the OIC Head, PEZA has signed 4 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) namely with Upgrade Energy Philippines, Inc. (UGEP), Quantum Global Corporation, Entoria Energy, and Junca Global Partner, Inc. and 2 Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) with Securities and Exchange Commission and AIM.
Automation of systems and processes are also ongoing such as for eLOAs, e-payment system, surveillance, visa processing and visa ID, digitization, supply chain marketplace, financial system and EPAMs, and cyber security solutions.
OIC Chief mentioned, “Implementing of mini-grid and solar energy development in Baguio City, Mactan, and Cavite Economic Zones will make PEZA a model in terms of compliance and eco-industrial parks.”
PEZA’s Milestone Anniversary & Employee of the Year Awards
Since 2021 to 2023, PEZA awarded the Milestone Anniversary Awards to its employees who have been with the Agency from 10 to 45 years.
For the 2023 Anniversary Award, 82 PEZANs were awarded; 35 PEZAns for 2022 Anniversary Award, and 17 PEZANs for 2021 Anniversary Award.
Further, the Agency also vested the PEZA Employee of the Year Award to 20 PEZAns from the Head Office and clusters 1 to 3 for their dedication, utmost service, and exemplary performance.
OIC Deputy Director General Santos expressed, “For the past 28 years and even during the EPZA years, it is not only our investment partners, the government, and private sectors that have helped us in performing our mandate to our utmost. PEZA and our economic zones also flourish upon your existence, PEZANs. You have all poured blood, sweat, tears, and joy to build PEZA to where it is today.”
Beyond 28 years, more targets
Moving forward, OIC Director General Panga stated, “PEZA will continue to be relevant, competitive and vibrant as it carries out its mandate to develop ecozones particularly in rural and new growth areas to generate more and high-impact investments, jobs, exports and other economic opportunities for the country.”
To complement the Agency’s efforts to enhance the ease of doing business (EODB) particularly in the zones, PEZA is strengthening its investment promotion efforts to attract strategic and big-ticket investments in the country.
As such, PEZA also expects more projects this year as a result of its investment missions in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Switzerland, Mongolia, the USA, and the other upcoming trips.
Likewise, the OIC Chief added, “PEZA is lobbying for the revisit of the CREATE Act and the amendment of the 28-year-old PEZA law to better adapt to the changes in the market and the current movement of the country’s investment and business climate.”
With the inclusion of the ecozone development program in the Philippine Development Plan 2023 – 2028, Panga is positive that, “More ecozones will be proclaimed by the President and created especially in the countryside and we can expect more investments to come through our economic zones.”
Additionally, PEZA welcomes the issuance of Executive Order (EO) 18 for its ‘whole-of-government approach’ in easing the conversion of investment pledges to actualize on the ground presence of foreign investors’ companies and facilities. With this, PEZA is committed to knowledge transfer and conduct of best practices training for those who will be assigned by their LGU’s and NGA’s as frontliners in investment promotions pursuant to EO 18.
Further, Panga shared, “The integration of SMEs into the ecozone value chain is also one of our priorities for they are supporting operations of our locator companies.”
The SME integration is also in line with the Agency’s main strategies to strengthening its investment promotions and facilitation through the creation and registration of New Frontiers in Ecozone Development such as aerotropolis, biotech centers, e-commerce zone, free trade zones, aquamarine parks, halal and food production hubs, high-tech parks, and jewelry parks.
Thanking Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual on the ratification of RCEP by the Senate, Panga said, “PEZA hopes to attract more FDI from the RCEP member economies and especially from non-traditional trading and investment country sources such as China, Australia, and New Zealand.”
“In the process, this will expand the ecozone FDI sources, diversify export products and markets, and contribute to infrastructure development that will address the gaps in the supply chain,” added the OIC Director General.
Meanwhile, for this year’s targets, the OIC Head said, “We are targeting growth of 8% for jobs, 9% exports, and 10% investments which are all aligned with other industries: IBPAP (10%), SEIPI (9%), and the Philippine GDP growth rate target of 6 to 7% this year.”