‘PEZA must have permanent head to boost investments’

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda
Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda

A LEADER of the House of Representatives urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to appoint a permanent Director-General for the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), who can “shoot decisively in the hunt for big whales and big elephants of investors.”

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda made the statement following the confirmation of Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, who also chairs the PEZA Board.

“Many congratulations to Secretary Fred Pascual. Now I hope a permanent PEZA head is next,” Salceda said.

The current officer in charge of PEZA is Tereso O. Panga, the deputy director general who was named OIC last year after a change in administration.


Salceda said he hopes Pascual can make a strong recommendation to the President to appoint a PEZA Director General “without further delay.”

“The world is beginning to go back to pre-pandemic normalcy, as Secretary Pascual would know. So, some unique windows of opportunity to take advantage of Covid-19 worries of multinational firms are also closing,” he said.

“Only security of tenure can give that certainty. I’ve recommended a few names, but I think Secretary Pascual can make that case to the President best,” he added, “With PEZA now having a permanent Board chair, we need a permanent PEZA Director General, not an OIC,” he added.

According to Salceda,  a permanent PEZA head can make longer-term commitments and make a stronger case for special incentives for special circumstances to the Fiscal Incentives Review Board.

“That’s crucial for attracting big whales,” Salceda said.

As for what he meant by “big whales,” Salceda said he hopes the country could begin preparing more long-term incentive packages for “big electronics companies such as TSMC, big defense manufacturers, and firms engaged in critically deficient areas, such as shipbuilding.”

“The services sector is straightforward, almost ministerial. But manufacturing, especially capital-intensive manufacturing, requires more tailor-fit incentives and various other forms of support. During PGMA’s time, we provided special electricity cost and access incentives to Texas Instruments through EO no. 666, s. 2007. That is a non-fiscal incentive that is perfectly allowed under CREATE,” he said.

Also, the lawmaker said a  permanent PEZA Director General can negotiate such incentives with big investors, but we need someone who has some job security over the remaining 5 years of this administration. The current OIC arrangement doesn’t quite meet that standard.

Salceda is particularly concerned that “we need to be very aggressive with our FDI.”

“Our import cover is a bit less than pre-pandemic levels because the BSP appears to have been conducting open market operations to protect the peso. Aggressive FDI attraction will pad our GIR and protect us from currency-related shocks. You need a permanent PEZA DG for that,” he added.


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