Moratorium on ecozones in Metro Manila may hurt PH competitiveness: IBPAP

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 27 2019 05:26 PM | Updated as of Jun 28 2019 11:58 AM

MANILA – The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) on Thursday appealed to the government to facilitate the approval of pending applications for new ecozones in the capital to meet the demand amid the government's order to “hasten” developments in the countryside.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte's Administrative Order No. 18, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) was ordered not to “accept, process or evaluate applications for the establishment of ecozones in Metro Manila" until the moratorium is lifted. It also prioritizes approvals for ecozones in the provinces.

IBPAP president and CEO Rey Untal said the group was "happy" with the order that mandated agencies to hasten human capital and infrastructure development in the provinces.

But a scarcity in supply in Metro Manila may push business operation costs upwards, which can have an impact on the country’s competitiveness, he said.

Higher rental can result in an uptick in the cost of doing business here, he added..

“Yung available PEZA space dito sa Metro Manila is mababa na, about half of what we need for this year, kaya ‘yung appeal namin, may transition provision naman ‘yung batas, exempted sa moratorium ‘yung mga application na nakasubmit na sa Office of the President," Untal told ABS-CBN.

"Sa Metro Manila, 22 of them pending application so ‘yun ang appeal namin na ma-facilitate, i-hasten sa space availability...Kasi kung malaki ang demand tapos walang supply ang mangyayari, tataas 'yung presyo. Pag tumaas ‘yung rental, 'yung cost of doing business tataas din,” he added.

Untal said the industry does not need “legislation” to move to the countryside. In fact, they have at least 270,000 employees in 23 key cities outside Metro Manila.

“Kumbaga ang point namin dito, simpleng simple lang. You don’t need to legislate because uunahan pa namin kayo for as long as nandoon na ang parameters. Hindi naman kailangan ng legislation, hindi namin kailangan ng motivation na ganon, kung ready na ang location,” he said.

Investors are looking for key cities with a sustainable supply of talents, good infrastructure and internet connectivity, and welcoming local governments, among others, he said.

IBPAP President Rey Untal. June 27, 2019. Photo: ABS-CBN News

The Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), meanwhile, said the measure as well as the rationalization of incentives make provincial locations "attractive to investors."

"CCAP has always been supportive of countryside development and we have seen success stories of CCAP member companies locating in the provinces, ” its president Jojo Uligan said in a statement.

ABS-CBN News has reached out to CCAP on their stand about the moratorium on ecozone approvals in Metro Manila.