PEZA expecting to approve P2B in new investments

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is estimating approvals of P2 billion worth of investments at its board meeting on Friday, after its June meeting was postponed following health care risks at its offices.

The 27 projects up for approval will generate an estimated 3,694 jobs.

Approved investments fell nearly 32% to P29.5 billion in the first five months.

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PEZA has yet to release complete data on total approvals for the first half of 2020.

The investment promotion agency’s June meeting was postponed after employees at its shared facility tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza said in a news conference Tuesday that she remains optimistic about investment opportunities for the rest of the year.

“In fact, we will be doing continuous virtual investor forums. We have now arranged for investor forums in various countries with the help of our commercial attachés,” she said, adding that foreign investors consider the Philippines’ shortcomings to include the cost of doing business and poor information technology infrastructure.

Ms. Plaza said that some service providers have recently canceled their PEZA registration.

“These are minor industries but the very reason they are canceling their registration with PEZA is that they lost their buyers,” she said, adding that lack of raw materials was also a factor in the cancellations.

She said these companies are facility and service providers employing fewer than 1,000 workers.

“We are closely monitoring… ang kinakatakutan ko (what I fear) is with the world recession, there might be export companies who will consolidate their resources so that they have to stop or close their other branches and concentrate their resources in countries which are investor-friendly, where the cost of doing business is low,” she said.

PEZA is also launching its Development Outreach for Labor, Livelihood, and Advancement of Resources program, starting with its quarterly job fair on June 13. The job expo is intended to give repatriated overseas Filipino workers opportunities.

The available jobs will mostly come from the outsourcing sector, while other sectors will be hiring for administrative and technical work.

The program is touted as an employment generator for areas outside of Metro Manila. Ms. Plaza said most of the companies will be hiring in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Baguio, Ilocos Norte, Cebu, and Iloilo, along with other ecozone locations.

Ms. Plaza said there will also be online work-from-home jobs.

As of its June 15 to 19 report, 78% of PEZA-registered companies are operational, with 75% of employees continuing to work. — Jenina P. Ibañez