THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in foreign investment approvals by the Board of Investments (BOI) for full-year 2016, driven by the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals and sustained investor interest.
“We’re still considering some approvals, so we might end up with double-digit growth for the full year at 15 percent to 20 percent,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez has said.
For 2017, the DTI is targeting the same conservative growth range of 15 percent to 20 percent, adding that the drivers for this will be, among others, the country’s stable growth, good macroeconomic fundamentals, its large consumer base, and a demographic sweet spot that is attracting investors, he said.
Investment missions and the President’s state visits are also adding to awareness on the country’s stable economic development, Lopez added.
For the first 11 months of 2016, government data shows that investments registered with the BOI reached P324.5 billion, up by 35.5 percent from P239.52 billion in the same period of 2015. These investment approvals represent 323 projects, which are expected to create 55,813 new jobs when the projects become fully operational.
The government has seven investment promotion agencies (IPAs) that offer tax and other incentives to investors. These are the BOI, Clark Development Corp. (CDC), Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) as well as the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), BOI-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BOI-ARMM), and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).
For the third quarter of this year, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that the top three prospective investing countries were South Korea, the United States and Singapore.
Electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply got the largest amount of foreign investments approved in the third quarter, while in terms of location, bulk or 20.4 percent of the approved foreign investments were intended to finance projects in the National Capital Region.
PH as investment destination
Meanwhile, the investment promotion units (IPUs) of 28 government agencies reaffirmed their commitment to further promote the Philippines as an investment destination of choice.
“The group has been instrumental in investment facilitation activities including the removal and/or reduction of barriers and impediments to investments such as, but not limited to, trade and industry liberalization, institutional/structural reforms, and simplification of business procedures, among other concerns,” said Domingo Bagaporo, BOI director for Investment Assistance.
The IPU Network is composed of 28 government agencies dedicated to facilitate and resolve investor issues and concerns. The network includes the BOI, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Bureau of Customs, Food and Drug Administration, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Civil Service Commission, and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, and the different departments including Agrarian Reform, Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Local Government, Labor and Employment, Public Works and Highways, Science and Technology, Tourism, Transportation and Communications.
Also in the IPU Network are the Housing Land Use Regulatory Board, Manila International Airport Authority, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Economic and Development Authority, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Office of the Ombudsman, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Department of Health was the latest to join the group in 2015.
Bagaporo said the BOI and the IPU Net outperformed their 2015 performance by 67 percent.
“This only means that the commitment of the IPU Net members to expedite the resolution of investors’ issues and concerns is very much intact. We will continue to strive in creating initiatives to further improve our international competitiveness in ease of doing business to generate more investments for the country, and more jobs for the Filipino people,” Bagaporo said.
In the first 11 months of the year, he said that the IPU Net facilitated 241 issues and concerns, which is 67 percent higher than the group’s 2015 performance. The group also received a 99 percent customer satisfaction, higher than the 87-percent target.
Of the various issues and concerns, about 52 percent were related to investment policies and guidelines, 41 percent were follow-ups on pending applications and requests, and 7 percent were related to fraud, misrepresentations, and inquiry about the legitimacy of companies.
The BOI resolved a total of 188 issues and concerns, inclusive of cases referred to the IPU Net members for further assistance.