March 22, 2018, 8:00 am
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Bleak investment picture

MORE than a year into the Duterte presidency, business leaders and analysts look back at how the nation fared in the area of foreign investments, one of the key economic indicators. 

Latest statistics showed that investment pledges made by foreign firms slid 55 percent year-on-year to P18.2 billion in the second quarter, the fourth straight quarter that commitments dropped.

These numbers came from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) which culled investment figures approved by seven investments promotion agencies (IPAs). These are the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan, Board of Investments, BOI-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Clark Development Corp., Philippine Economic Zone Authority and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Despite the fact that these investment promotion agencies give out substantial fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to incoming investors, the numbers remain neither hopeful nor encouraging.

As of the end of the first six months, IPA-approved foreign investments totaled P41 billion, down 38.4 percent from P66.6 billion a year ago.

Recalling what happened during the last three quarters, the PSA report showed that foreign investors’ pledges decreased in the first four quarters of the Duterte administration. In contrast, approved foreign investments increased 11.5 percent year-on-year to P40.4 billion in the second quarter of 2016.

Saving the day for the total investment picture are pledges made by Filipino investors, whose approved investments endorsed by the seven IPAs in the second quarter jumped 29.7 percent to P230.5 billion from P177.7 billion a year ago.

Filipino-led projects amounted to P212.3 billion, equivalent to 92.1 percent of all IPA-approved investments during the period from April to June.

From these statistics, one can surmise that while numerous big-ticket projects are available in the country, foreign businessmen are cautious and very discerning in what activities to put their money into. 

Included in their major concerns, of course, are President Duterte’s policies involving human rights, the war on illegal drugs and stability of business procedures.

Filipino businessmen, both based here and abroad, are more pragmatic and can appreciate Duterte’s character and leadership style. To these Filipinos we owe the creation of some 95,100 jobs in the second quarter, up 76.2 percent from the projected new employment of 53,998 last year.

This is one occasion when we salute our countrymen in the field of business for their patriotism and sense of nationhood.
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