BOI to relax ‘force majeure’ definition, provide incentives for firms that save jobs

Published by rudy Date posted on January 26, 2009

THE Board of Investments (BOI) said it would fast track the approval of the 2009 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), adding it plans to provide incentives to firms that would generate or save jobs in spite of the global economic slowdown.

Trade Undersecretary Elmer Hernandez, who is also Board of Investments managing head, said the incentive-giving agency targets to come up with this year’s IPP earlier than the March 31 deadline.

“If [the 2009 IPP] would be part of the stimulus package to pump prime our economy, we should come out with that as soon as possible,” he said.

Hernandez said the board is already conducting a series of meetings and consultations with various agencies concerned with the economy, such as the National Economic and Development Authority and Department of Finance, to speed up this year’s IPP.

He said BOI is bent on drawing up an IPP that would allow the Philippine economy to post positive growth, amid a looming global recession.

The trade official said the BOI is looking at ways on how the agency could also provide incentives to firms that would save jobs. This is line with the department’s focus this year on securing and creating more jobs.

“To mitigate the impact of the crisis on jobs, BOI would work on what the law provides in terms of incentives . . . to make use of incentives to encourage companies to keep their workers,” Hernandez said, adding the agency is coming up with “save jobs” protocols in the IPP.

He said the agency is also studying mechanisms through which it could allow ongoing investments that already enjoy incentives to invoke “force majeure,” as many businesses are expected to take a hit from the global crisis.

He said some BOI-approved projects would likely encounter difficulties during these hard times, thus preventing them from fully benefiting from the tax incentives and other perks to which they are entitled. Such projects, under force majeure, could decide to shelve their availment of incentives, and also temporarily halt or downscale their operations, under the condition that when the economy is in a better shape, these ventures would resume full operations and could again avail of the perks they temporarily put on hold.

“[A force majeure scenario] gives us something to look forward in the future when the economy gets better, rather than allow companies to ultimately close shop or investments to pack up and leave the country,” Hernandez said. –Ben Arnold O. De Vera, Reporter, Manila Times

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