Fireworks are seen over the Makati central business district, Dec. 31, 2023. — MATRIX IMAGES / GEORGE BUID VIA REUTERS CONNECT

THE BOARD of Investments (BoI) is aiming to approve as much as P1.5 trillion in investment pledges this year.

Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said the BoI’s official target is to approve P1.1 trillion in investment commitments this year.

“But our internal target, of course, is to exceed what we have achieved in 2023,” he said at a media briefing on Friday.

Trade Undersecretary and BoI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said the agency’s internal target is to greenlight between P1.3 trillion and P1.5 trillion in investment pledges this year.

For 2023, the BoI approved P1.26 trillion in investment pledges, a 73% increase from the P729 billion worth of commitments approved in 2022.

However, this fell short of the BoI’s P1.5-trillion internal target, which was revised upward from the initial P1-trillion goal.

Under the Program Expenditure Classification, the BoI is aiming to increase its investment approvals by 10% this year.

According to Mr. Rodolfo, the investment promotion agency would have been able to hit the P1.5-trillion mark if the projects worth P272 billion were approved during the Dec. 28 meeting.

“These are several projects which still have documentary requirements and transparency requirements,” he said.

Mr. Pascual expressed confidence the BoI will be able to surpass its 2023 investment approvals.

“You will see, the year is just starting but the BoI has around P300-billion investment eyed to be approved this year. So hopefully, we will be able to achieve and exceed what we were able to achieve in 2023,” the Trade chief said.

The BoI approved investment commitments for 311 projects mainly in renewable energy, telecommunication infrastructure, and the export of copper, gold, and other metals.

“Upon full operations, the projects are expected to produce 49,030 jobs for Filipinos,” the BoI said in a press release.

By sector, the renewable energy (RE) and power sector had the biggest investment commitments accounting for P987.12 billion or a 141% increase from P409.02 billion in 2022.

Investor interest in RE projects surged after the Philippine government allowed full foreign ownership in the sector starting November 2022.

Foreign nationals and foreign-owned entities are now allowed to explore, develop and use RE resources in the country such as solar, wind, biomass, ocean or tidal energy. Foreign ownership of RE projects was previously limited to 40%.

Other sectors that attracted investments include information and communication (P96.04 billion), mining (P79.19 billion), manufacturing (P22.05 billion), and infrastructure (P21.47 billion). 

“An important aspect of the BoI approvals is that a bigger proportion of the approvals are actually foreign investments rather than local investments. Two-thirds are foreign investments, which is used to just comprise 20%,” Mr. Pascual said. 

“This is indicative of how the Philippines is becoming attractive for foreign investors,” he added.

Foreign investment approvals accounted for P766.97 billion of the total approvals or 61%, while local investments made up P493.23 billion or 39%.

Germany was the top source of foreign investments last year accounting for P393.28 billion, which mainly went into wind energy projects.

The other top sources are the Netherlands (P333.61 billion), Singapore (P21.45 billion), United States (P3.55 billion), and the British Virgin Islands (P2.13 billion).

Mr. Rodolfo said he expects the RE sector to continue attracting foreign investments.

“Yes, it will be RE, but in addition to RE, we will now be seeing investments in RE equipment manufacturing. Second, mineral processing, which we expect to come out from the previous presidential visits,” he said.

He said that a lot of foreign investments, mainly in RE, are expected to come from Europe. The BoI is also expecting more investments to come from South Korea, US, China and Japan. — Justine Irish D. Tabile