By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The IT Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), the umbrella organization of the country’s IT business process management industry, is meeting with the Metro Manila mayors to seek support for the exemption of some cities with no BPO locators yet from the Malacanang moratorium, which bans the approval of IT Parks and Centers in Metro Manila.
In an interview with reporters at the Digital Disruption 2.0 forum on the theme ‘Harnessing Digital Transformation in Driving Business Growth’, IBPAP President and CEO Rey Untal said they were meeting with Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno initially.
IBPAP is trying to rally support from these local government units or the 17 cities of Metro Manila.
The industry, the second largest dollar earner in the country, is deemed at the crossroads with several factors and issues affecting its growth.
For instance, Malacanang has issued Administrative Order No. 18 in June this year imposing a moratorium on the approval of IT Parks and Centers in Metro Manila to force BPO firms to locate outside of the National Capital Region and help spur development in the provinces.
Untal said they are pushing for exemption from the moratorium for some cities in Metro Manila that do not have BPO locators yet like Caloocan and San Juan. Manila has only one BPO Center located in Sta. Mesa.
“Mayor Isko Moreno has a campaign to bring back businesses and work in Manila, but it has only one BPO building,” Untal said.
He said that it would be a natural route to seek the support of the mayors for the exemption from the Malacanang moratorium for Metro Manila cities which are not yet densely populated with BPO operation.
“That is the natural route to go because BPO has very positive effect on the ecosystem and has wide multiplier. So, it is very transformative for Manila,” he said. Untal will also meet with Makati and Taguig city mayors.
Makati, Taguig and Pasay are densely populated with BPO firms. The MOA complex alone in Pasay City has .01 vacancy rate, he noted.
With the moratorium, there could be shortage in supply of office space for BPOs. Untal said the industry needs 460,000 square meters of office space annually. With the moratorium, they would be left with 120,000 to 150,000 sqm office space available.
But all is not lost though, he said noting there are still 21 IT Centers already endorsed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to Malacanang for proclamation as special economic zones. Once proclaimed, these IT Centers are entitled to tax and fiscal incentives of the government.
There are also over 100 IT Parks and Centers projects still with PEZA.
“So we have the flexibility,” he said.
Once an IT Park is proclaimed as a special ecozone, buildings located in that park are automatically certified as IT Centers and its locators would be entitled to PEZA tax packages.
There is still one IT Park in Quezon City in Centris and another one in Alabang that could still be tapped for new and expanding BPO firms.