By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Investment pledges approved by the Board of Investments (BOI) rose 126 percent as of August this year buoyed by two huge telecommunications projects.
BOI reported it generated a total of P609.04 billion worth of investments in the first 8 months this year or more than double the P269.3 billion approved in the same period last year.
Two big telco projects made up for almost half of the committed investments in the January-August period this year in line with ongoing digital transformation of the country.
ISOC Asia Telecom Towers, Inc. registered its P141.1-billion project to construct 25,000 cellular towers in the country. The 3-phase project of Philippines Fiber Optic Cable Network Ltd., Inc. with investment commitment of P134.5 billion was also approved by the BOI. The company’s fiber optic cable would cover around 60,000 kilometers. The BOI also approved the P16.7- billion cement facility of Republic Cement and Building Materials, Inc. in Rizal.
These strategic investment projects are significant and basic support to other key industries such as in manufacturing and services.
According to BOI, 98 percent of the registered investments are located outside of Metro Manila. Projected employment upon operations will reach 37,524 personnel, a 30.5 percent improvement from 28,743 recorded in January to August 2018.
Of the total investment pledges, domestic investments account for the bulk with P404.5 billion, a 61.2 percent jump from P251 billion compared to last year. Approved foreign investments comprised a third of the total figure, surging to P204.5 billion which translates to a 1,016.3 percent increase compared to just P18.3 billion in the same period in 2018. Singapore continued to dominate all foreign investments with P170 billion. Netherlands was runner-up with P9.2 billion. Thailand (P8.6 billion), Japan (P6 billion) and the United States (P2.4 billion) are among the biggest foreign investors.
Broken down, investment approvals in August alone reached P296.2 billion, a 1,640.9 percent jump from just P17 billion in August 2018. “The August figure of investment approvals nearly matches investments approved for the first seven months of 2019, amounting to P312.8 billion. This shows big-ticket projects have begun to roll in and proves that the Philippine economy remains resilient in attracting investors despite the global slowdown,” Trade Secretary and BOI Chairman Ramon M. Lopez said.
“With the August inflation rate decelerating further to 1.7 percent, the lowest in nearly three years, our country has greater stability and flexibility as our exports continue to grow in some markets. Even our manufacturing sector is expected to weather the downward trend that has affected most countries as BOI approvals among the manufacturing sector surged to P62.9 billion, a 189.2 percent increase from just P21.7 billion in January to August 2018. To further increase the capacities of our manufacturing base, we will continue to aggressively promote increased bilateral business ties with our biggest trading partners despite their trade wars. But at the same time, we will also promote import substitutions by exporting more to other markets as we diversify. All of these efforts will help us create more jobs and employment to fulfill the President’s dream for a better life for our people,” Lopez said.
Aside from telco, power projects remained among the biggest investments with P195.1 billion, a 50.5 percent increase from P129.6 billion in the same period last year. The tourism accommodation sector rolled to P9.2 billion, up 636 percent from P1.25 billion in 2018. The Human Health and Social Work Activities (Hospitals) segment registered a 69.7 percent jump from P1.3 billion in 2018 to P2.3 billion to date.
“We are still on track to meet our year-end targets. We still have pending big-ticket projects that need to be thoroughly studied and evaluated. With four months remaining, we have to ensure that those who got the nod are deserving of the tax incentives and translate to more job opportunities for our countrymen,” Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said.