FRESH PROJECTS pledged at the Board of Investments (BoI) in the first five months of the year climbed 40.1% from a year ago, with power projects spurring the growth.

BoI investment registration performance

In a statement on Monday, the government’s lead investment promotion agency said the value of projects in January to May totalled P290.6 billion, up from the P207 billion in the comparable period last year.

Power-related investments made up the bulk or 63.8% of the projects as pledges for the sector grew 74% to P185.4 billion from P106.5 billion last year.

“Power projects are essential as it fuels the Build, Build, Build program of the government and the demands of a growing population. There are big power projects that will complement the infrastructure projects in the coming months even as we exercise due diligence for projects that are deserving of incentives. At the end of the day, we have to ensure our power supply will accommodate the strong demand not only of our massive infrastructure projects and population but also the rapid expansion of our industries, lead by the manufacturing sector,” Trade Undersecretary and BoI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo was quoted as saying in a statement.

Manufacturing projects followed, more than doubling its recorded value of commitments to P44.6 billion from P19.4 billion in the same period in 2018.

Commitments for the information and communication sector surged to P33.2 billion from P340 million last year. Pledges for tourism accommodation facilities also soared to P8.4 billion to P1 billion in 2018.

For May alone, the BoI said it approved the P700-million shipping project of Southwest Gallant Ferries, Inc. which will service the Batangas, Romblon and Roxas City routes; the P400-million Cavendish banana facility of Tren2 Agri-Industries in Agusan del Sur, whose products will be exported once operational; and eight low-cost housing projects worth P2 billion spread across the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (CALABARZON) and Central Luzon regions.

Bulk of the projects in the five-month period were from local proponents, growing 11.48% to P223.50 billion from P200.50 billion last year.

Region IV-A or CALABARZON was the top investment destination, accounting for P200.9 billion of locally-generated investments. It was followed by Region III or Central Luzon with P27.1 billion, the National Capital Region with P7.9 billion, Region VII or Central Visayas with P5.7 billion, and Region II or Cagayan Valley with P4.4 billion.

Meanwhile, approved investments from foreign sources saw an upswing to P67 billion in the five-month period from P6.9 billion last year.

Singapore was the biggest foreign investor during the period with P35.4 billion. Netherlands placed second with P9.1 billion and Thailand followed with P8.5 billion. Capping the top five sources were Japan with P5.5 billion and the United States with P2.4 billion.

“With the Philippine economy up four notches to 46th in the latest World Competitive Yearbook rankings, the vote of confidence of the administration affirmed in the May mid-term elections with the resounding victory of most of its candidates and allies, is seen to sustain investor confidence for the Philippines,” Trade Secretary and BoI Chairman Ramon M. Lopez said.

The Trade chief added that the recent visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to Japan will boost the local investment climate as he was able to attract nearly P300 billion in investment deals, business expansion and letters of intent from Japanese firms to channel more capital into the country expected to create over 80,000 additional jobs for Filipinos.

“We will continue to spread economic development in the regions as records show barely three percent of investments are located in the NCR with the rest (97%) going to the countryside,” Mr. Rodolfo said. — Janina C. Lim