By CHINO S. LEYCO
The country’s approved foreign investments declined in the first-quarter of the year amid massive uncertainty in global capital flows due to coronavirus pandemic, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
Based on the submissions from six investment promotion agencies, total commitments reached P29.4 billion in January to March this year, lower by 36 percent compared with P46 billion in the same period last year.
Of the total pledges to the Philippines, three-fourths of the foreign investments will go Metro Manila and its nearly areas.
The national capital region cornered the majority with 43.8 percent, while 17.5 percent should go to southern Luzon and 15.2 percent are committed to central Luzon.
Central Mindanao, meanwhile, secured 11.6 percent of the total foreign investment pledges in the first-quarter.
During the three-month period, the bulk of approved foreign investments came from United Kingdom with P6.14 billion (20.9 percent), United States with P5.74 billion (19.6 percent) and China with P4.9 billion (16.7 percent).
The PSA data were submitted by Board of Investments (BOI), Clark Development Corp., Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.
No investment approvals were reported from BOI-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during the quarter.
Because of the lower investments pledges, the expected jobs to be generated also fell by 17.6 percent to 34,814 as against the projected 42,245 employments registered in the same quarter in 2019.
Out of the anticipated jobs during the quarter, 89 percent would be absorbed by projects with foreign interest, the PSA said.
Last year, foreigners pledged P390.1 billion investments to the Philippines, up by more than double compared with P183.3 billion in the previous year.
But with the worldwide spread of the coronavirus disease, the country is expected to take a hit from the health crisis as its economy is projected to contract by 2.0 percent to 3.4 percent.
To attract investments, the Duterte administration already proposed to drastically reduce the government’s corporate income tax by five percentage points from 30 percent to 25 percent beginning July this year.
The Philippines currently has the highest corporate tax in Southeast Asia.