Energy projects dominate BoI investment approvals in 2015

Posted on January 08, 2016

THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday outlined its accomplishments last year, including an increase in the capital infusions coursed through its investment promotion arm and the country’s export-oriented economic zones, as well as the jobs they created.

Trade Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr. said the Board of Investments (BoI) approved a total of P366.74 billion worth of investments last year, up 3% from a year earlier.

“The aggregated investment approvals were generated from 358 projects with an estimated 58,252 new jobs when these investments become fully operational,” he said in a briefing yesterday.

The approval of big power projects largely contributed to the increase. The projects include the Olympia Violago Water & Power Ltd. Co. at P69.13 billion, San Buenaventura Power Ltd. Co. at P49.45 billion, and Semirara Mining and Power Corp. at P29.50 billion.

Of the new projects, energy-related ventures accounted for 55 with a total investment of P246.42 billion. These projects are expected to have a total generating capacity of 2,095.92 megawatts (MW).

In 2014, the comparative figures were P174.69 billion from 37 projects with a total capacity of 1,542.4 MW.

Ceferino S. Rodolfo, who has been named officer-in-charge undersecretary for industry development, said the increase in energy investment bodes well for the country’s goal to ensure energy security and independence.

These investments support the Philippine Energy Plan 2010-2030 to search for, discover, and further develop energy sources,” said Mr. Rodolfo, a former assistant secretary who is now also BoI managing head.

DTI-attached agency Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) also reported higher investments last year -- by 5.6% to P295.09 billion from P279.48 billion in 2014.

Lilia B. De Lima, PEZA director-general, said the new capital represented the 598 new projects approved by the agency, which helps to promote investments in the export-oriented manufacturing industry.

Ms. De Lima said the PEZA-registered projects created 1.243 million new jobs as of October, up 7.7% from 1.154 million in the same period in 2014.

These projects are expected to contribute $36.63 billion in export revenues as of October, slightly lower than the $36.84 billion in in 2014.

For this year, Mr. Cristobal said the department will continue with the implementation of the manufacturing resurgence program (MRP), which has a budget of P289 billion this year, up from P239 billion in 2015.

He said key government agencies will have projects and programs to implement under the MRP, ranging from infrastructure development to “soft interventions” like training and capacity-building.

He said the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program is the core of the resurgence program, which the DTI is heading and plans to replicate to three to five other selected industries.

“We believe it will achieve long-term inclusive growth, and much-needed quality jobs... sustaining the competitiveness of the country,” he said.

The CARS program aims to enhance the competitiveness of the Philippines as a top destination for regional car manufacturing by providing fiscal support of up to P27 billion.

Mr. Cristobal also said the micro, small and medium enterprises “are and should be” the core of the department’s policies, programs and activities.

“We intend to strengthen this core,” he said, starting by reclassing micro and small enterprises as separate from medium-sized businesses because the support given to them are different.

On consumer protection, Mr. Cristobal said the department would be tweaking its advocacy and communications campaign to raise quality consciousness among consumers.

Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, undersecretary for consumer protection group, provided an update on the case involving alleged incidents of sudden and unintended acceleration raised by some drivers of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp.’s Montero Sport unit.

The department recommended tapping third-party experts to further investigate the reported incidents. It is also looking at tapping foreign laboratory to do the tests.

The probe will determine whether a recall of Montero Sport units is warranted. -- Victor V. Saulon