“PEZA fully supports the creation of more economic zones as these are the driver for economic growth in localities hosting them. However, creation of ecozones should continue to be under one PEZA framework or enabling law,” PEZA director general Charito Plaza said yesterday.
STAR/ File
PEZA nixes bills creating new ecozone agencies
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is opposing proposals to create new agencies for economic zones and free ports in the country, citing this would lead to additional costs and create competition among investment promotion agencies.

“PEZA fully supports the creation of more economic zones as these are the driver for economic growth in localities hosting them. However, creation of ecozones should continue to be under one PEZA framework or enabling law,” PEZA director general Charito Plaza said yesterday.

She said there is no need to have more ecozone and freeport authorities as this would just mean additional costs to government as well as create internal competition of ecozone authorities in the country.

She also said creation of new ecozone or freeport authorities would just replicate what PEZA is already doing.

“It is basic in administrative law of the country that the creation of new administrative or executive bodies should achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency in government operations and minimize duplication and overlapping of activities,” she said.

She said creating more ecozones need not be done by government alone, but could be undertaken by having a joint venture or public-private partnership  either with foreign or domestic entities.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also supports private sector – led initiatives for the creation of ecozones instead of having new publicly owned ecozones and freeports as stated in his letter to the House of Representatives Committee on Economic Affairs.

“In general, we find the creation of additional development authorities contrary to the government’s continuing efforts to rationalize the bureaucracy. Specifically, the Philippine Development Plan 2017 to 2022 (…) supports the full implementation of a national rightsizing program which requires agencies to rationalize their staffing pattern in consideration of other agencies’ mandates and functions to eliminate duplication,” he said.

Among the bills pending at the House of Representatives for the creation of a new economic zone authority is House Bill 5440 which seeks to establish the Bacolod Economic Zone Authority.

PEZA said local government units with the most number of ecozones see strong economic growth, lesser crime and lower poverty rates.

The top five regions with the most ecozones are the National Capital Region, Region IV-A, Region III, Region VII and Region XI.

Established in 1995, PEZA is tasked to operate, administer, manage and develop export-oriented economic zones and encourage investments to be made in the country.

As of end-2019, the country has 404 operating economic zones.

CHARITO PLAZA PEZA
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