ICT sector corners half of historic P1-trillion investments as of October

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The Board of Investments (BOI), the country’s lead investments and industry promotions agency, said it has breached its annual target of P1 trillion in investment approvals in the first 10 months of the year, the highest ever in the agency’s 52-year history.

Investments from the information and communications technology (ICT) sector posted committed investments of P518.8 billion to date, nearly half of the total figure. The October approvals were led by Dito Telecommunity Corporation’s P210-billion project as the third major telecom player with its base in Clark Freeport Zone.

“We are catching up with our Asian neighbors in upscaling our digital infrastructure as we build more cellular towers and improve our Internet speed across the archipelago. As you know, Internet traffic is going to grow exponentially since we are already the world’s top social media user according to a recent report,” DTI undersecretary and BOI managing head Ceferino Rodolfo said.  

Department of Trade and Industry secretary Ramon Lopez said the BOI has surpassed expectations for the third successive year. “This validates the country’s position as among the top investment destinations globally,” he said.

He pointed out that the country’s investment climate continues to improve further with the recent 2020 World Bank (WB) Report in the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) which saw the country improve its score from 57.7 to 62.8 and a leap of 29 places from 124th to 95th position among the 190 economies.

“Our double-digit improvement is even more remarkable as our country was cited as among the 42 countries which implemented regulatory reforms in more than three areas resulting in significant improvement in the score. Among ASEAN, we posted the highest improvement. This is our highest record yearly improvement in a decade,” Lopez said.

The January-October 2019 figure is up nearly three-fold with a 139.6 percent leap from last year’s P434-billion in the same period. Local investments hit P709.1 billion, up a solid 78.2 percent while foreign investments accounted for P330.9 billion, a nine-fold upgrade (818.2 percent) from just P36 billion in 2018.

Singapore remains steady as the biggest foreign investor to date with P170 billion in capital infusion. China is now second with P84.9 billion. South Korea nabbed third with P39.1 billion. Netherlands (P9.1 billion), Thailand (P8.8 billion), Japan (P6.2 billion) and the United States (P2.5 billion) are also among the biggest investors.

All projects upon start of operations will create 52,554 jobs, a 41.6-percent improvement from last year’s 37,112 in the first 10 months. For October alone, total projects reached P275.2 billion, a 351-percent improvement from October last year.

“This historic-setting figure of P1 trillion is all the more remarkable considering we still have two more months left in the year. And yes, there are still pending projects to be thoroughly reviewed before we give the approval,” Rodolfo said.

Rodolfo noted that the domestic manufacturing sector had P78.8 billion in approvals or a 29.2-percent increase from P61 billion last year.

“Growth in the power sector remain steady with P383.2 billion or a 119.3-percent jump from P174.7 billion a year ago. As we develop, demand for power continues to go up. Tourism remains a bright spot as the accommodation and food service sectors remain a bright spot as it recorded P9.5 billion for a 187.9-percent increase from last year’s P3.3 billion. Tourism is among the biggest job creators in our country along with manufacturing,” Rodolfo said.

“Although we may have experience modest growth in foreign tourist arrivals, this is more than made up by the overwhelming surge of domestic tourists which reached over 110 million in 2018 and has already exceeded the 89.2 million target by 2022 as stated in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP). So we look forward with the tourism boom. Meanwhile, the agriculture sector is on the rebound with P2.5 billion in approvals, up 19.04 percent from 2.1 billion a year ago,” Rodolfo elaborated.  

Among regions, Calabarzon (Region IVA) is still dominant with P372.8 billion in investment approvals. Region III – Central Luzon is runner-up with P253.3 billion. Cordillera Administrative Region is third with P33.4 billion followed by the National Capital Region (P19.4 billion) and Region VII – Central Visayas (P10.5 billion).  

Other notable projects include Pan Pacific renewable Power Phils. Corp.’s P33.4 billion 250-megawatt (MW) hydropower project in Apayao, the P12.6 billion liquid Carbon Dioxide and Dry Ice facility of Arstroma Philippines Corp., the P3.1 billion hydropower station of Repower Energy Corp. in Valencia City, Bukidnon and the P3 billion operational lease of Airbus A321 NEO plane by Cebu Air.

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