“The Philippines will be an investment haven in Asia once its two biggest wealth, its human and natural resources, are tapped and responsibly utilized,” said Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito “Ching” Plaza in her speech during the May 20 virtual forum “Free Zone 4.0: The Way Forward, Road to Recovery,” organized by the World Free Zones Organization that tackled the global economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
With 350 international participants from around the globe during the webinar, Plaza discussed how the current COVID crisis affected the Philippines and the measures being taken by the government and particularly by PEZA to cope with the ‘new normal.’
The PEZA Chief has likewise promoted the country’s advantages relatively to other countries in the world and why it is best to invest in the Philippines.
“The Philippines is blessed with the two most important resources. Other countries have either, but not both the gift that can propel the economy of any nation like ours. The two most important resources are rich human and natural resources which are both endowed and present in the Philippines. It makes us unique amongst others,” Plaza pointed out during the webinar.
PH rich human capital, natural resources
According to Plaza, “The Filipino work force is the most sought-after by foreign investors for being young, dynamic, intelligent, equipped with global-knowledge and skills, and English speaking which altogether make them easy to be trained in various industries. Likewise, Filipinos are known to be friendly, hospitable, and helpful.”
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data states that in 2019, there is “44.7 million economically active population comprising of either employed or unemployed persons.” Likewise, about a million Filipinos reach the working age of 18 annually.
Plaza stated that “Half of this population are college graduates but, their skills or professional degrees do not match the needs of the industries.” To help better train our workers, PEZA devised a program for the Filipino workforce to cope with the demands of the advancing world.
Under the leadership of Director General Plaza, PEZA’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Institute project, in partnership with the state and private universities and colleges, hopes to make our workforce as our nation’s asset. “SEZ institute program seeks to transform our young talented workforce as rich human capital, multi-knowledge, and multi-skilled world-class workers which will surely attract more investors to the country,” Plaza stated.
Plaza added that “The Philippines is likewise endowed with fertile soil and rich natural resources, which can become different finished products for export. This will allow the completion of the country’s supply chain and sustain the food and other basic needs of the people.”
“It is time for our country to benefit on our own rich resources and to establish ourselves and eradicate our import-dependence,” noted the PEZA Chief.
Other factors that needs to be addressed
Despite the said two advantages, Plaza lamented that there are other lacking factors that need to be addressed in the country that requires the whole of government approach or support or crucial government agencies. Such includes public works and IT infrastructure, logistics and transportation hubs, and lower power and utilities rates, among others.
“Notwithstanding, PEZA’s incentives have been tried, tested, and proven over the years to attract investors in the country despite our lacking factors. Precisely, it is this context that incentives need to be enhanced to enhance our competitiveness and cope with global crisis, instead lessening it.”
“An investor-friendly incentives and economic policies that will entice huge capital investments, create huge number of jobs, bring in the transfer of technology, develop our millions of hectares idle lands, and create smart towns and cities and new metropolitan areas in the countryside are needed to fill in the lacking factors and help fully industrialize the Philippines,” explained the PEZA Chief.
“Once these efficiency factors are addressed, the skills of our human resources are enhanced, and our natural resources are utilized responsibly, the Philippines will rise as Asia’s investment haven,” said Plaza.
Stay updated with news and information from PEZA by visiting their website at http://www.peza.gov.ph.