By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
Investment pledges registered with the Board of Investmets (BOI) dipped to ₱84.1 billion in the first four months of 2020, reflecting a 71 percent decline from ₱286.7 billion in the same period last year due to several unrealized big projects in the pipeline that could have strongly boosted the figure had it not for the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic that started hamper registration of projects since March this year.
“The downturn is expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic where economic activities and investments are disrupted due to lockdowns around the world,” said Trade Secretary and BOI Chairman Ramon M. Lopez said.
Of the total approved investments in the first four months this year, domestic pledges reached ₱70.7 billion, a sharp 68 percent decrease from ₱219.7 billion in the same frame last year. Foreign investors also slumped by 80 percent to only ₱13.4 billion from ₱66.9 billion a year ago.
In terms of sectors, the transportation and storage got the most investments with ₱60.2 billion or 71 percent of total investment figures. The rest went to real estate at ₱8.8 billion, manufacturing ₱5.3 billion, power ₱4.2 billion and accommodation ₱3.8 billion.
The investment commitment represents the combined project cost of 70 projects approved and registered during the January- April period. Once fully operational, these will translate to 11,055 jobs.
France topped among foreign investor with ₱1.5 billion in committed equity investment. Japan followed with ₱790 mil¬lion. Malaysia placed third with ₱601 million. India and the United Kingdom completed the top five with ₱325 million and ₱156 million, respectively.
BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said there were two big unrealized projects that should have given the agency a sterling performance in the early part of the year. He said these two big projects support the entry of the third telco.
Rodolfo said that one infrastructure project with estimated cost of ₱500 billion could have been the biggest recorded BOI project but remained unrealized because of the COVID-19 debacle.
Most of the pipeline projects for registration were caught with the declaration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine that took effect starting March 17.
But Rodolfo said the projects in the pipeline, which are mostly developmental and infrastructure, have confirmed they are still pushing through with their registration.
“This is not a normal situation,” said Rodolfo still confident that projects in the pipeline will flow in after the crisis. For this year, the premier investment generating agency is targeting a 10 percent growth in investment registration.
“This is just a momentary setback at most 2020-2021, and after that it will be smooth. We are confident the unrealized projects in the pipeline will finally come in and they are big,” he said.
During the past two months, the role of the BOI had shifted to providing support for firms— particularly those allowed to operate during the various phases of the Quarantine Period—to continue business operations and facilitate continuity in their value chain.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, who is also BOI chairman, noted, “While the actual approved figures are down, this is partly because there are investment projects which we have chosen to carefully re-confirm with proponents their commitment to pursue even in this environment. So far, investors remain solidly optimistic about the medium-to-long-term prospects of the country.”