Surge in investment in the Philippines shows return of investor's confidence

As a clear indication of the return of investor's confidence in the Philippines, the country's top two investment promotion agencies - the Board of Investments (BOI) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) - have reported an aggregate of P259.94 billion ($6 billion) worth of investments in the first five months of this year.

The figure is 189 percent higher compared to the P90 billion ($2.07 billion) approved investments generated in the same period of last year.

The BOI figure showed a staggering increase of 338 percent, from P43.65 billion ($1 billion) for the first five months of last year to P191.35 billion ($4.41 billion) for the same period of this year. PEZA, on the other hand, was able to increase investments by 48 percent, from P46.35 billion ($1.07 billion) to $68.59 billion ($1.58 billion) during the five-month period.

Earlier, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country's central bank, also reported that the Philippines continues to attract foreign investments, with foreign portfolio investments posting a $2.3 billion net inflow as of June 18 this year.

Data released by the BSP showed recently, the net inflow of " hot money," a term used to describe portfolio investments because of the speed that it can be poured and taken out of the economy, was more than thrice the $696.52 million in the same period in 2010.

Total inflows of foreign capital into the country as of June 18 amounted to $8.57 billion, more than twice the $4.08 billion last year, the BSP said.

But, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the major sources of new investments were local investors with committed investments worth $224.57 billion ($5.18 billion), accounting for 86 percent of total investment approvals, while foreign investors contributed only $35.37 billion ($816 million) or a measly 14 percent. Officials said that the 390 approved projects are expected to create 74,266 additional jobs when fully operational, a 76 percent increase from last year' s 42,105.

A report by the state-owned Philippines News Agency (PNA) said that the manufacturing sector cornered the highest committed investments worth $120.79 billion ($2.79 billion), or a whopping 439 percent increase compared to the P22.41 billion ($517 million) posted in the same period last year.

One of the biggest projects to be undertaken this year is the modernization and conversion of the Bataan oil refinery of Petron Corporation, which is 99.47 percent Filipino-owned. Petron, which is an existing industry participant under the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998, has infused new investments worth P74.78 billion in its Bataan project. Another notable project is New Carcar Manufacturing, Inc. (100 percent Filipino- owned), a new producer of steel billet, which has committed P10.57 billion ($244 million) worth of investments. The company's production facilities are proposed to be located in La Union, Cebu, Panabo City and Davao del Norte.

The electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply sector, which came in second with investments amounting to P70.17 billion ($1.62 billion), doubling the amount of investments for last year, remains bullish, garnering a 27 percent share of total investment approvals in the first five months of 2011.

The real estate activities sector also generated P51.77 billion ($1.19 billion) worth of investments in the first five months of 2011, posting an increase of 92 percent over last year's same period.

But it was the administrative support and service activities sector that posted the highest increase in investment approvals of 6,457 percent to P5.55 billion ($4.9 million). Accommodation and food service activities sector also posted a positive increase of 122 percent to P3.21 billion ($74 million).

Meanwhile, the implementation of the public-private partnership (PPP) program, a flagship project of President Benigno Aquino III, has hit another snag.

Newly-designated Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas said that he still would like to study first the bidding of the contract to operate Metro Manila's two railway systems - Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 - which was scheduled on July 11.

Roxas said that the postponement of the first PPP bidding, which was ordered by his predecessor in the DOTC, was okay with him.

According to Roxas "I am comfortable with the postponement because I am not yet fully up to speed on it. It's a P15-billion ($346 million) project, mostly outflow, so we need to be very careful and sure about this.

President Aquino also said that 10 PPP projects would be bid out this year (2011).


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