15% jobs hike in PEZA despite locators’ BoI shift

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority may have lost its IT -BPO locators which the government has mandated to transfer to the Board of Investments in order for these companies to enjoy a 100 percent work-from-home-arrangement, but PEZA said it is still optimistic that it can reach an increase of 15 percent in providing jobs for the local workforce within the next six year.

In his interview with the Daily Tribune’s morning show Gising Na!, PEZA OIC-deputy director general for Finance and Administration and Concurrent Promotions and Public Relations Group manager, Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal said the Authority will continue to support the government’s decision to transfer their IT-BPM locators to BoI.

“While this is welcome news for the industry, we in PEZA stand by our position that we must come up with an institutionalized policy on WFH/flexi-work arrangements to ease the burden and provide security for our investors. And as the enactment of the proposed bill will take some time, we are pushing for the approval of our request to extend the WFH policy until March 2023 as a temporary measure,” he said.

Also Guiapal said PEZA continues to reiterate its position that their 30 percent WFH (Work for Home) policy is a permissible activity under Republic Act 7916 or the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995, Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act, and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act, as the policy is also consistent with the direction of some legislators favoring a greater WFH/flexiwork arrangement for ecozone IT locators so that the can keep their incentives as they operate in IT centers.

The policy is also consistent with the direction of some legislators favoring a greater WFH/flexiwork arrangement for ecozone IT locators so they can keep their incentives.

More proactive and responsive

“We believe that the government can be more proactive and responsive to the needs of ecozone locators if it will extend to them the WFH privileges under a hybrid work set-up. This solution will not only put PEZA on equal footing with the BoI since both agencies offer the same incentives to their registered business enterprises (RBE, whether domestic or export-market oriented) but will also make the Philippines apace with India and other forward-thinking economies that have adopted WFH and hybrid work arrangements as the new normal,” Guiapal explained.

He maintained that any company who wants to engage in putting up shop in the country can always look forward to doing business with ease.

“So, whatever the process for the said transfer, we look forward to seeing to it that ease of doing business will be the country’s foremost advantage. PEZA always has the absorptive capacity to manage the business as shown by the data we have,” he added.

He said the IT-BPM industry has been raking in billions of pesos in terms of revenues, as from January to September 2022, the industry posted P25.9 billion worth of investments, and has created 1,023,493 direct employment, while industry exports reached $11.23 billion as of August this year.

“In the end, we are looking forward to a speedy and flawless transfer of registration of locators from PEZA to BoI. We are supportive of that industry whomever they chose,” he said.

The Fiscal Incentives Review Board has recently come up with a decision to allow IT-BPM/BPO firms in economic zones to adopt up to 100 percent WFH arrangement and still enjoy tax incentives if these firms transfer registration from PEZA register to the BoI.

Investments increasing

Meanwhile, Guiapal noted that there has been a significant increase in investments in PEZA in the past quarter of the year amid the ongoing pandemic.

“We still feel the impact of the pandemic, of course, because we are still in the recovery phase, and we are joining efforts to fast-track our economic recovery. Nevertheless, we are happy to inform everyone that PEZA posted a total of P39.631 billion in approved investments from 148 new and expansion projects for the January to September 2022 period,” he said.

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