PH primed to be leading investment hub in Asia – DOF

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno expressed his confidence that the Philippines all set to be a leading investment destination in Asia owing to its favorable policy environment during the Philippine Investment Opportunities forum on August 29, 2023 at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Office in Takebashi, Tokyo, Japan.

“Indeed, the Philippines today is primed more than ever to become a leading locus of investments in Asia and the Pacific. This is made possible through the establishment of a stable, predictable, and competitive investment environment,” he said in his presentation.

Secretary Diokno presented the Philippines’ improved public-private partnership (PPP) policy framework, fiscal incentives offered under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law, and the recently legislated Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) to an audience of over 130 representatives of Japan-based trading houses, financial institutions, Japanese government agencies, and multilateral development agencies.

The Philippine government is guided by the Marcos administration’s 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028.

“To this end, the Philippine government has embarked on the aggressive implementation of reforms to create a conducive environment for PPP-related investments,” Secretary Diokno said.

The government has already revised the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law to strengthen the financial viability and bankability of PPP projects; improved the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) Guidelines on PPP approvals to ensure faster processing and approval of PPPs; and enhanced the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Joint Venture (JV) Guidelines to align with the revised IRR of the BOT Law and the proposed PPP Act.

Furthermore, the government is pushing for the passage of the PPP Act, which is nearing approval in the Senate, to simplify regulations and procedures on infrastructure projects.

“Our PPP reforms have already resulted in quicker approval of projects in the last seven months,” Secretary Diokno said.

Since the start of the Marcos administration, four PPP proposals with a total project cost of PHP 212.8 billion or around US$ 3.8 billion have been approved in record time.

The Finance Secretary said that the solicited proposal for the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was evaluated and approved in around six weeks, while the unsolicited proposal for the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) Extension Project was evaluated and approved within 11 weeks.

There are currently around 197 Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) approximately worth US$ 155 billion available for partnership.

These include projects on energy, water, logistics, transportation, agribusiness, manufacturing, tourism, health, and education.

JICA’s Chief Representative in the Philippines Takema Sakamoto also gave a presentation highlighting the Philippines’ viability as an investment hub and development partner.

According to him, the Philippines is a promising country with a demographic sweet spot, manageable debt levels, trustworthy public sector commitment to PPPs, and a slew of opportunities for development partnerships.

The Philippines is JICA’s second largest beneficiary in the world. The Agency is currently supporting the implementation of twenty-eight (28) ongoing loans with the Philippine Government, among which are the North-South Commuter Railway Project (NSCR), NSCR Extension Project, and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 Rehabilitation Project.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Her Excellency Mylene J. Garcia-Albano and JICA Senior Vice President Nakazawa Keiichiro delivered the opening and closing remarks, respectively.

Meanwhile, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan presented the Philippine’s socioeconomic agenda; Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime J. Bautista outlined PPP projects in transportation; Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla tackled investment opportunities in energy; and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Joshua M. Bingcang briefed investors on opportunities in New Clark City.