THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) registered a decline of about one-fourth of its investment pledges in the first nine months amid the pandemic.

In a virtual event on Monday, Peza Director General Charito Plaza reported that the investment promotion agency booked P51.202 billion worth of investments in January to September, which is lower than it registered in the same period last year at P68.491 billion.

“The good news is that Peza has remained versatile and proactive in strengthening new and existing investment partnership even during the pandemic,” she said.

Japanese investors account for the majority of the investments with 27.8 percent. In terms of sectors, the electronics and semiconductors industry dominated the contribution with 34.71 percent.

In the nine-month period, Plaza said that Peza’s export revenues reached $40.67 billion.

The Peza official said there are currently 415 economic zones under its regulation, with 4,665 company locators.

The ecozone locators directly employ 1.6 million workers. Plaza noted that six indirect jobs are generated for every one direct job.

As of September data, 90 percent of the companies in the ecozones remain operational. These include those employing skeletal workforce and work-from-home arrangements.

Broken down into specific sectors, 84 percent and 95 percent of the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) and manufacturing industries, respectively, are operating.

Plaza said the regulator of ecozones has renewed its call to reconsider the implementation of work-from-home (WFH) threshold on the basis of gross revenues for the IT-BPM sector instead of number of workforce on-site.

In a earlier interview with the BusinessMirror, the director general said they notified the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) about this request last month.

The PEZA proposal, which seeks to base the threshold on gross revenues, means the locators will be allowed to have 100-percent WFH arrangement for the workforce but it also means that only 90 percent of the revenues of the activity will be subject to incentives. Plaza said the proposal is also for the interim while the national state of calamity is in effect.

Its proposal was, however, denied.

The FIRB has approved the extension until March 31, 2022, of WFH arrangements for up to 90 percent of employees in the IT-BPM sector.

Meanwhile, Plaza is also awaiting the lifting of the moratorium on building new ecozones in Metro Manila to spur more developments.

The BusinessMirror earlier reported that around P16.07 billion worth of investment for information technology (IT) parks and IT centers as of April 30 in the National Capital Region (NCR) have remained pending this year amid the moratorium on processing new economic zones in the capital region.

Currently, 167 IT parks and centers are located in NCR, most of which are in Makati, Quezon City and Pasig.

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