THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) failed to meet its investment target for 2017 due to expansion delays.

The PEZA reported on Friday that it generated a total of P237.57 billion in investments as of December 2017, 8.89% higher year-on-year — well below the agency’s target of a 200% increase in approved investment projects.

PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza said in a briefing that investments were affected by planned expansions that failed to take flight this year due to delayed presidential proclamations, a lingering issue for the agency.

“Before, they only required the building to be declared but now the Malacañang wanted the lot to be part of the proclamation as well. So when we told the applicants to comply, it also led to the delay,” She added.

Despite this, Ms. Plaza still credited the Duterte administration’s foreign policy to the incremental increase in investments.

“There is much hope that the Duterte government is a better government because it is an independent foreign policy, it already welcomes everybody. If you look at the records of the foreign investors, most of the foreign investors are allies of America, are democracies,” she added.

“[Back then], we did not open the Philippines to China to Russia because they not allies. We did not open to the Middle East because of our traditional mindset. [But now], these are the three regions of the world that are very aggressive on the Philippines [in terms of investing].”

Ms. Plaza also pointed to PEZA’s “aggressive campaign” in local government units (LGU) for the dissemination of information about the agency’s incentives and programs.

“[These LGUs] are now interested in establishing ecozones for their activities. [In fact], 65% of the investments come from ecozone development. We will still push through with our aggressive campaign in the LGUs next year,” she added.

As of December, PEZA has 379 ecozones. — AGAM