22 April 2020 (Wednesday)
Taguig City – Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito “Ching” Plaza on Tuesday shared the top investment promotion agency’s performance for the first quarter of 2020 amidst the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“PEZA’s investments continued to be challenged for the First Quarter of 2020. On top of this issue is still the continuing uncertainty posed by the rationalization of incentives under the pending legislative measures that have created uncertainties. Added to this is the current pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, which has caused a tremendous and immediate impact on PEZA’s export manufacturers and exporters of IT-enabled services (BPOs),” stated Plaza.
“Before the declaration of the ECQ on March 16, 2020, PEZA’s total approved investments from January to February 2020 were already down by 5.85% compared to the same period last year,” said Plaza.
The Director General explained that “Due to the ECQ, the PEZA Board was unable to meet last March, therefore, no new investment projects were approved and thereby resulting in no additional investments for PEZA for the said month.”
She pointed out that “This resulted in the carry-over of the total PEZA investment figures as of February 2020 for March 2020 resulting in a bigger negative growth of -27.98% in the total PEZA investments for the entire first quarter compared to the same period last year.”
The effect of the ECQ on PEZA’s first-quarter employment and exports figures are still being completed as the deadlines set for these submissions coincided within the ECQ period.
Plaza stated that the effects of this global pandemic took a toll on PEZA’s performance as everybody is at a halt.
“Currently, PEZA has a lot of projects planned, pending applications that need to be reviewed, expansion plans, construction of new plants and new investors to partner with. However, because of the pandemic, ECQ measures are to be strictly followed to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases so that the lockdown can also be lifted and we can safely go back to work,” said Plaza.
Plaza calls on a “unified and synchronized ECQ plan, rules, policies, and enforcements by IATF, national agencies & LGUs that will address pandemic’s three main challenges that need to be addressed specifically health, economy, and public order.”
Silver lining for manufacturers of in-demand PPEs, medical supplies
Last April 1, 2020, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Finance (DOF) have issued a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 20-02, series of 2020 that allows export companies 80% of the domestic sale of their products of in-demand PPEs, medical supplies, etc. during this period. Also, export incentives are going to be continuously honored or applied for exporting companies who will comply with the said joint memorandum.
Plaza emphasized that “Cooperation is key for government agencies to facilitate and balance our focus on public health and the continued production especially of essential products during this pandemic. We are grateful for the support and leadership of IATF during this time in making sure that the needs of our PEZA-registered enterprises are being met as they in turn aid our country’s frontliners during this crisis.”
Opportunities ahead for PH economy
“The Philippines has forthcoming opportunities after the pandemic to make the country attractive to more investments that may be transferring from China. The pandemic shows how important it is to make our economy self-reliant, self-sustaining and resource-generating,” said Plaza.
“There is a silver lining as export companies are looking to expand to other ASEAN nations, and not just simply invest in one country, to ensure business continuity in the event of another global crisis. We are hopeful that this will mean more business opportunities for the country and more job opportunities for the Filipino people” said Plaza.
“The Philippines has a great advantage of having a strategic location in the globe, the endowment of fertile soil, and only two types of weather which means that we can plant the whole year. Additionally, our workforce is young and fluent in the English language. With more investors showing interest in our country, we must rebuild our economy after the crisis,” she said.