Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director-General Charito B. Plaza

THE PHILIPPINE Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) will be restructured to create more regional presence, its top official said.

“We’re coming up with a new structure because we want to decentralize and regionalize our services,” PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza said in an online interview.

Regions with more ecozones will have their own offices, she said. The agency is eyeing approval of the employee compensation classifications under the new structure before the end of the year.

The investment promotion agency has been pushing for the development of more ecozones in the countryside, working with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines to identify areas they could convert into ecozones.

“We based it on the land potential and the resources of the plan. We don’t have to destroy land — if it’s an agricultural land, we call it agro-industrial economic zone. If it’s a fishing ground, we have the aquamarine economic zone,” she said.

PEZA has also been planning to transform its public ecozones into townships by building commercial and housing facilities for employees and investors.

While it has been backing countryside investment, the agency asked President Rodrigo R. Duterte to lift a ban on the creation of new economic zones in Metro Manila. The moratorium was declared in 2019 to promote investment in the provinces.

PEZA-approved investment pledges increased by almost 54% to P25.82 billion in the first quarter of 2021 after coming off a low base last year. The 57 projects could create more than 5,600 jobs, PEZA said. — Jenina P. Ibañez