Job creation, security Peza head’s key focus


JOB creation and job security will be the main focus under his watch in attracting foreign investments and locators, according to Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) Director General Tereso O. Panga.

According to the investment promotion agency, the foreign investments and locators should have an “immediate impact” on Filipino lives in the areas where they are located. Peza also noted that economic zones have been a hub for job creation in the regions.

“The creation of jobs locally opens many opportunities for the [local government units] LGUs and its communities like higher revenues for the LGUs and skills training for the youth and new graduates in the community,” Panga said in a speech on Monday, adding that Peza will be committed to “actively pursue” these as part of the agency’s efforts in nation building.

To carry this out, Panga said, Peza will enter into partnerships with its locators and industry associations such as the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), which he said has focused on creating “secured” jobs that spur economic growth.

In fact, he said, “We can achieve IBPAP’s admirable goal of hiring 1 million of our kababayans by 2028.”

Further, the PEZA chief said, the investment promotion agency is working closely with the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (Seipi) in “preparing human capital readiness for advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 and with [Philippine Ecozones Association] Philea in developing world-class and environment-friendly economic zones in rural and new growth areas to spur countryside development.”

Apart from job creation, Panga said the agency is committed to pursue other top priorities like creating new types of special economic zones.

The Peza chief said it will include “new modes incorporating townships, such as the Agro-Forestry Ecozone; Aquamarine Park; Defense Industrial Complex; Halal Hubs, Knowledge, Innovation Science and Technology (KIST), Renewable Energy Ecozone, and Pharma Park among others.”

Moreover, the agency will leverage on the country’s leading export sectors such as the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), semiconductor and electronics, and health services, Panga said.

“Peza will be aggressive in attracting investors that will bolster science-based industries linked to the Global Value Chain,” the Peza chief said, adding that this will ensure that the Philippines remains at the forefront of being a relevant investment destination.

According to Panga, Peza also aims to attract and target high-tech industries that will provide for “ecozone product sophistication, export diversification, labor-intensive and high-skilled jobs, knowledge transfer, enhanced local supply chain, and creation of industry clusters.”

Panga said the agency will closely work with Congress to address investor “pain-points” such as the cost of high electricity and investors’ operating costs as compared to locating in other countries.

One pain point he cited is the restoration of the value-added tax (VAT) system, which Panga said has been partially addressed with ecozone logistics services enterprises (ELSEs). Existing ELSEs may now enjoy their incentives such as zero VAT rating on qualified local purchases, as it is now considered an “eligible activity” in the 2022 Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP).

The Peza chief, meanwhile, said there is no letup in preventing smuggling in the ecozones by strengthening the agency’s monitoring and police functions through the Peza police. In line with this, Peza will upgrade its digital applications to fully account for tax- and and duty-free ecozone shipments to prevent their leakage in the domestic territory.