THE PHILIPPINE Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) on Monday said it is on track to hit its 10% growth target for approved investments this year, after greenlighting P14.93 billion worth of 20 new and expansion projects in May.

This brought PEZA’s approved investments for January to May to P48.03 billion, which is 2.5 times higher than a year earlier, PEZA Director-General Tereso O. Panga said in an e-mailed statement.

Among the 20 projects approved by the PEZA board on May 26, 11 are into export manufacturing, seven are in the information technology sector, and one each in facility and economic zone development.

The projects will be located in the cities of Makati, Pasig, Taguig and Baguio, and the provinces of Pampanga, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Cebu, Iloilo and South Cotabato, PEZA said.

The biggest project pre-qualified by the PEZA board for approval by the Fiscal Incentives Review Board is owned by the maker of solar wafer cells with Maxeon 7 technology, it said. The project will be in Sto. Tomas, Batangas province with investments worth P11.63 billion.

“These projects are expected to generate about $293.55-million (P16.5-billion) exports and create 4,480 direct jobs,” the agency said in the statement.

“We are continuously seeing an uptrend with our investment approvals as we enter the first half of the year,” Mr. Panga said. “We are more aggressive in our initiatives to help our investors make the Philippines their smart investment choice, taking the cue from President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who has been most active in promoting the Philippines in his outbound missions.”

PEZA approved 80 projects for January to May that are expected to generate $1.31 billion in exports and 11,949 jobs, up from 70 projects a year earlier.

The agency said it is partnering with government agencies and industry associations to address the “pain points” that hinder investors to unlock the untapped potentials of the Philippines.

These agencies include the Department of Finance, Commission on Election, National Economic and Development Authority, with which PEZA discussed the concerns of investors.

PEZA has also discussed with Senator Lorna Regina “Loren” B. Legarda the creation of more economic zones in Antique and other provinces to spur development in the countryside.

It had also signed a deal with the Information and Communications Technology department to boost digitalization in the government to ensure the fast delivery of public services and bolster the country’s competitiveness, Mr. Panga said.

The agency aims to continue the government’s export-led growth strategy by having 98% of 3,431 registered business enterprises export-oriented.

PEZA locators account for 82% of the country’s total annual commodity exports and 60% of service exports.

“We vow to continuously perform our mandate to the best of our ability and help the administration in achieving its bid for the country to graduate to upper middle-income status within the term of President Marcos,” Mr. Panga said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile