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BoI-approved pledges rise to P122B

REUTERS

INVESTMENT PLEDGES approved by the Board of Investments (BoI) surged by 156% in the first two months, despite a drop in commitments from foreign investors as the pandemic continued.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, who is also the chairman of the BoI, said on Wednesday the investment promotion agency approved P121.9 billion in investments in January and February, higher than the P47.6 billion in pledges approved during the same period a year ago.

The BoI accounts for the bulk of planned projects registered with investment promotion agencies.

Broken down, foreign investment commitments declined 16.81% to $6.2 billion, while domestic investment pledges jumped 188% to $115.7 billion.

The number of projects likewise fell 39% to 31, but the projected number of jobs the investments will create rose by 41% to 10,207.

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“As our economy recovers, we are confident of achieving our pre-pandemic growth rates and beyond. To this end, we are facilitating greater trade and investment in the country by continuously pursuing reforms to foster a better business environment,” Mr. Lopez said in a speech at the Manila Forum for China-Philippines relations on Wednesday.

He referred to reforms such as the reduction in corporate income tax to 25% from the current 30%, which was included in the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) passed by Congress in February.

The BoI reached P1.02 trillion in approved investment pledges last year, or around 10% lower than the P1.14 trillion recorded a year earlier and below the P1.25 trillion target set before the pandemic. BoI-approved investment pledges reached P617 billion in 2017 and P915 billion in 2018.

The investment promotion agency is targeting P1.25 trillion in investment approvals for 2021, or 22.5% higher than last year’s tally as it anticipates more infrastructure projects.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported the country’s net foreign direct investment inflows dropped by 10.8% year on year to $5.8 billion in the first 11 months of 2020, amid lingering concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Lopez told the attendees of the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU) event that investment opportunities in the Philippines include manufacturing of e-vehicles, e-bikes, and bicycles; light industries manufacturing for connectivity devices, bags, and textile manufacturing; and Internet of Things (IoT), smart manufacturing, and artificial intelligence.

Another investment promotion agency, the Phiippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), approved P11.308 billion in investment pledges in January , or 139% higher than the P4.726 billion in the same month last year.

PEZA expects the 24 projects to employ 5,601 workers.

Economic managers expect gross domestic product to grow by as much as 7.5% this year after a 9.5% contraction in 2020. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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