The government reported over 3,000 workers from 15 electronics and semiconductor companies inside different economic zones across the country have been laid off thus far as a result of the business slowdown triggered by the global financial crisis.
Philippine Economic Zone Authority director general Lilia de Lima, however, said she remained upbeat in Peza’s investment target of a 10 percent growth in the value of new business projects in local economic zones that is expected to generate a five percent increase in employment for the year.
At the weekly Bulong Pulungan held at the Hotel Sofitel in Pasay City yesterday, De Lima, who was guest speaker, said she does not expect a slowdown in investments primarily after Peza doubled its efforts in promoting new areas to attract projects outside of electronics and semiconductor sectors, which were the hardest hit by the global economic slowdown.
The target by Peza was in contrast to the investments forecast of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila who projected a flat growth in overall investments this year.
Peza is an attached agency of the DTI along with the Board of Investments (BoI), which is DTI’s investment promotion arm.
“If you think good, it will come, if you think otherwise then nothing will come in. If you are in investments promotion, you should be upbeat,” De Lima noted.
De Lima, however, said the number of laid off workers may still go up in the coming months but less than the 3,000 who lost their jobs last year.
Despite the expected reduction in the total workforce in economic zones, De Lima said a 5 percent increase in job generation in 2009 from 608,057 workers was likely until the end of last year.
The number of additional jobs in 2009 could come from new areas for investments. These would include tourism economic zones, medical tourism and special economic zones, retirement sites and agro industrial zones.
De Lima even expressed hopes to close a major deal with one foreign firm who intended to close its operations in China to transfer to the Philippines, she however, declined to provide other details.
The prospect was on top of the two Korean companies who have proposed to engage in aqua and marine culture production in here.
She was also optimistic to announce the possible entry of Taiwan’s footware industry in Bataan moving its entire operations from China to the Philippines.
In the past 13 years, the number of Peza registered zones all over the country increased to 183 from 16 zones, bulk of which were IT parks and IT centers totaling to 112 zones; followed by 62 manufacturing zones; 7 tourism ecozones; one medical tourism park; and one medical tourism center.
Total investments in 2008 grew by 15 percent to P154.8 billion as against P133.7 billion in 2007. Since it was renamed Peza in 1995, total investments generated up to end 2008 amounted to P1.327 trillion. At least 50 percent of its total profits earned were turned over to the National Government, the rest were retained by the agency. –Ayen Infante, Daily Tribune