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PEZA leaves to next admin decisions about ecozone ban

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is leaving it to the next administration to decide whether or not to lift the moratorium on new economic zones in Metro Manila, a move the investment promotion agency expects will help attract more information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) investors to the country.

PEZA director general Charito Plaza said this after the inter-agency Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) denied PEZA’s request to recommend to President Duterte the lifting of the moratorium on new ecozones in Metro Manila imposed under Administrative Order (AO) 18.

“So we’ll wait for the next administration. We hope they can open their eyes to the need,” Plaza said.

While PEZA supports the development of ecozones in the countryside, Plaza said there is a need to accept that there are areas still lacking IT infrastructure and other amenities investors are looking for in deciding where to set up operations.

“We have to address this first. It is not just the IT infrastructure but the other amenities,” she said.

She also said there are still areas in Metro Manila which currently do not host IT centers.

Plaza said the PEZA wants the country to attract more investors and lifting the moratorium would help.

PEZA deputy director general Tereso Panga said new entrants in the IT-BPO sector prefer to go to Metro Manila first before exploring sites in the countryside.

“In our positions submitted to the Office of the President and FIRB, we manifested that effectively the CREATE (Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises) Act has superseded the AO 18 moratorium,” he said, citing three considerations.

He pointed out that CREATE was issued later than the AO and that it was the superior law because it was passed by Congress and approved by the President.

Panga said CREATE already provides the criteria in setting up an IT center in Metro Manila including listing IT services as an eligible activity.

In denying PEZA’s request to lift the moratorium under AO 18, the FIRB emphasized the administration’s thrust to promote investments outside Metro Manila.

The FIRB also said the AO complements the government’s strategies and policies on rural development, aligned with the objectives of CREATE.

PEZA

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