THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is asking for P100 billion from the government’s proposed economic recovery program to help develop more public economic zones.

The investment program is expected to develop public works infrastructure and logistics and transportation hubs, thereby lowering the cost of doing business.

PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza in an online news conference Tuesday said she is seeking funding from the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy, formerly known as the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act.

“PEZA’s projection is (based on) what happened to our four public ecozones… which triggered the growth and development of the private economic zones. This has triggered the growth of domestic enterprises. So pag nadala natin ‘yung export-oriented industries, sila ang nagti-trigger sa growth and development of the domestic enterprises (attracting export-oriented industries triggers growth and development of domestic enterprises),” she said.

PEZA is also asking for P13 billion for skills training, P1.3 billion to build housing for workers inside the four public ecozones, P800 million for 100-bed hospitals inside the public ecozones, and P510 million to master plans ecozones in each region.

PEZA is proposing that the export threshold for manufacturing companies be reduced to 50% for 2020 to 2021, from the previous 70% requirement.

It is asking to be authorized to grant outright the maximum eight-year income tax holiday that has been reserved for ecozone projects with pioneer status. PEZA said this should be applied to strategic and big-ticket projects registered within the next two years.

Ms. Plaza said this incentive should be given to either domestic or export-oriented projects with a minimum $500-million investment, offering 3,000 direct jobs in areas outside Metro Manila.

PEZA is also asking that the government lift the moratorium on developing new ecozones in Metro Manila, and for the Office of the President to approve 71 pending ecozones.

The investment promotion agency presented this after approved investments in the first five months fell almost 32% year on year to P29.5 billion.

By industry, approved investment for manufacturing dropped 10.43% to P10.4 billion, while information technology grew 116.9% to P10.7 billion.

The number of projects fell 42.35% to 196.

Ms. Plaza said that 75% of PEZA companies have resumed operations and 72% of employees have gone back to work as of June 5, after some companies suspended operations during the lockdown. By sector, 67% of outsourcing companies have resumed operations, while 81% of manufacturing companies have done the same. — Jenina P. Ibañez