Saying the government wants to reopen the economy and stimulate business revival in the country, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) has upheld its resolution giving work-from-home (WFH) incentives to IT-BPO firms in economic zones only till March 31.
The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), the organization of information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry in the Philippines, earlier said it is asking the government to retain the flexible working arrangements even after March to fortify the Philippines as a premier IT-BPM destination.
“The WFH arrangement is only a time-bound temporary measure adopted during the surge of the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the increasing vaccination rate of Filipinos nationwide, we can now undertake safe measures for physical reporting of employees, including those working in the IT-BPM firms operating within ecozones and freeports,” Department of Finance (DOF) secretary and FIRB chairman Carlos Dominguez III said during the recent FIRB meeting.
“The employees’ return to the office would provide more opportunities and pave the way for the recovery of local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that depend on IT-BPM employees for their livelihood,” he added.
The decision of the Cabinet-level interagency board to stand by the FIRB Resolution No. 19-21 denied the request of certain groups, including IBPAP, to implement extensions to the adoption of the WFH arrangement for the IT-BPM sector until after March 2022.
In a statement, IBPAP president and CEO Jack Madrid said the group supports the need to fully reopen the economy but noted that BPO employees have an overwhelming preference for a hybrid work arrangement.
“[W]e are working with our government partners to provide the industry a smooth transition to onsite operations towards a WFH or hybrid model in the longer term,” Madrid said.
Meanwhile, the FIRB also disapproved the request for the lifting of the moratorium on ecozone development in Metro Manila.
The agency stood firm on its decision to increase investments outside Metro Manila, and emphasized that Administrative Order (AO) No. 18 still complements the government’s strategies and policies on rural development, aligned with the objectives of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.