Tycoons urged to match $35-B in foreign investments

By Max V. de Leon, Business Mirror

Posted at Jan 24 2011 10:51 AM | Updated as of Jan 25 2011 12:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The government is setting meetings with Filipino business tycoons to convince them to at least match the targeted $3.5 billion in actual foreign direct investments (FDI) for the year.

Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio, also Board of Investments (BOI) managing head, said the goal of the government is a 50:50 ratio in fresh capital infusions for the year from the foreign investors and local businessmen.

He acknowledged, however, that meeting the $3.5-billion FDI target for the year looks to be so daunting, considering the country only attracted about $1.2 billion in 2010.

In case the $3.5-billion FDI goal is not met, Panlilio said the local businessmen would have to be relied on by the government anew to deliver the extra push in the fresh capital inflows.

The BOI registered P302-billion worth of investments in 2010, with 93% of them represented by local companies.

“The growth potential for FDIs is there. But, at the same time, the domestic investments should not go down. We are meeting with our [tycoons] to ask them to put in their money,” Panlilio said.

The BOI’s target for the year is to register P258 billion worth of new projects from key sectors such as agri-business, energy, infrastructure and public-private partnership projects, mass housing, mining and tourism.

Besides the new registrations, Panlilio said about P210 billion worth of projects that were already registered in the previous years are expected to begin commercial operations this year.

On the other hand, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), the second biggest investment-promotion agency in the country, is targeting a 10% hike in the P204.4 billion in investment approvals that it recorded last year.

This will go hand-in-hand with similar 10% increases in direct employment to 809,239 individuals, and in exports to $44.52 billion.

“We are targeting 10% growth in each of these three areas, or in basketball terms, a triple-double,” Peza Director General Lilia de Lima said at a forum organized by the DTI for newsmen.

John Forbes, senior adviser of the American Chamber of Commerce, said the target of Peza, particularly for employment, is very conservative considering the BPOs are mostly housed in Peza-accredited IT parks and buildings.

“I think the target of the BPO sector is to hire additional 100,000 employees this year, so that alone will put them above 10% already,” Forbes said.

Panlilio explained they are seeking $3.5 billion in FDIs for the year and not just investment commitments from newly registered projects.

Besides the BOI and Peza, also tasked to catalyze the inflow of fresh investments are 11 other investment-promotion agencies, including the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Clark Development Corp., Bases Conversion and Development Authority, and the Philippine Retirement Authority.

Those identified as major sources of FDIs and export revenues for the year are

  • Europe
  • China
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • United States
  • Canada

By corporations, those that are seen to pour in fresh capital to the country this year are

  • Shell
  • Nestlé
  • Total Petroleum
  • Lafarge
  • Airbus
  • B/E Aerospace
  • Xtrata Mines
  • Lufthansa-Technik