Thursday, 4 June 2009

What recession? Peza investments up 18% to P9.75B

By Abigail L. Ho
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—After a dismal first quarter, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority registered an 18.2-percent increase in investments to P9.75 billion in May, from P8.25 billion in the same period last year.

The number of projects approved by the Peza board went up to 48 last month from 34 in the same month the year before, Peza director general Lilia de Lima said in a briefing Wednesday.

She said these new projects would generate 6,351 new jobs, a 119-percent surge from the 2,900 jobs created in May 2008.

Most of the newly approved investments are still in the information technology sector, de Lima said.

Exports, however, remained sluggish, falling 22.6 percent in May to $178.6 million from $218.9 million in the same period last year.

“Our figures on investments, exports and employment were down for the first four months of 2009, compared to the same period last year. Just as we were thinking of downscaling our targets, the performance for May gave us good reason to put on hold such adjustment,’’ she said in a speech before members of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Inc.

Peza aims to grow investment value by 10 percent, employment numbers by 5 percent, and export dollars also by 5 percent this year.

In an earlier interview, de Lima said Peza expected the second quarter to be “much better,” as demand for the country’s products start to pick up.

“I think we have bottomed out. The orders are starting to come in. Companies have said they will start to expand. They are now trying to recall the people that they have let go,’’ she had said.

In the first quarter, Peza experienced a 50-percent drop in investments as investors adopted a wait-and-see attitude amid the global recession.

Companies, mostly those from the semiconductor and electronics sectors, were forced to either retrench workers or implement shorter workweeks.

Chip giant Intel Corp. even announced the closure of its Philippine facility some time in the second half, a move that would displace around 1,800 employees.

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