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Peza pushes bid to lift NCR ecozone ban for IT-BPM

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) is still hoping that the ban on new ecozone development in Metro Manila will be lifted soon given the demand for expansion, especially from the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) companies.

“We’ve been writing, reiterating ours and the IT-BPM and real estate companies’ request to lift the moratorium,” Peza Director General Charito Plaza told the BusinessMirror.

She said that lifting the ban is crucial, “especially now that we’re encouraging expansions and new investments.”

As such, Plaza urged government officials to give focus to lifting the ecozone ban.

The moratorium on new ecozones in the National Capital Region is in line with Administrative Order (AO) 18 released in June 2019, which aims to spur economic activities in the countryside as well.

The regulator of ecozones noted that among the locator companies that are “aggressive” in expanding under the new normal is the IT-BPM sector, supporting Peza’s initiatives for the digital economy.

Plaza, with this, stressed the need to keep on pursuing investment opportunities despite the pandemic.

“Business must be as usual and better because of our pandemic and disaster experiences; we pursue businesses and ecozones that are durable, crisis and disaster-proof, and modern with the demands and the challenges of new normal,” she added.

Earlier, Peza said the pending IT-BPM investments in Metro Manila may still proceed following the provisions of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act despite the ecozone ban.

“If you read through the provisions of CREATE, it allowed the operations of eligible projects in Metro Manila with incentives and this will be to the inclusion of IT projects,” Peza Deputy Director General for Policy and Planning Tereso Panga said previously.

Based on the implementing rules and regulations of CREATE, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board is tasked to finalize a list of priority sectors which will be granted incentives. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier identified the IT-BPM as among the critical sectors.

Still, Panga said that Peza still wanted to secure a “categorical position” from the Office of the President to proclaim the applications as ecozones. The BusinessMirror earlier reported that Peza was seeking to lift the AO 18 to give way to inquiries for IT parks and centers in NCR amounting to P16.07 billion in total as of April 30.

Broken down, data obtained by this newspaper showed 10 applications for IT center amounting to P15.5 billion and one inquiry for a P573.93-million IT park.

Currently, 167 IT parks and centers are located in NCR, most of which are in Makati, Quezon City and Pasig. There are over 290 IT parks and centers in total across the country out of 410 ecozones under Peza’s regulation.

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