MANILA - The Philippines posted P137 billion in either investment pledges or approved investments from January to March this year despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country's trade chief said Wednesday.
Trade Sec. Ramon Lopez said in a public briefing that this is much higher than the investments recorded in the same period in 2020, marking a 64.65% increase. Citing the Board of Investments, Lopez said only P83 billion was approved in the same timeframe last year.
Employment also went up by 12,013 jobs from January to March 2021, registering a 13.28% growth compared to the same period in 2020, which garnered only 10,605.
The Philippines earlier posted P1.02 trillion last in 2020 in investment pledges. The BOI said the P1-trillion mark was hit due to two large-scale power projects and a water supply project approved towards the end of 2020.
There were also increased investments in power, water, transportation and storage sectors.
This year, the BOI is targeting P1.25 trillion worth of approved investments.
"Moving forward to 2021, we expect that investments in these types of projects will intensify particularly in infrastructure -- road, ports and telecoms -- in water and power,” Lopez earlier said.
The BOI is under Department of Trade and Industry, which Lopez heads.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua meanwhile said the Philippines needs to "continue managing risks" as the country's COVID-19 cases surge.
"My recommendation po ... is to focus on localized quarantine and we address the highest sources of risk so that 'yung trabaho, 'yung mga kita tuloy-tuloy po," he said.
Chua stressed the strict lockdown which the Philippines experienced last year will harm jobs and livelihood further, saying there are 3.2 million "hungry" people in Metro Manila.
More than 6 months of of easing the lockdown in the country, Filipino officials placed additional restrictions this March until April 4 to stop a surge in COVID-19 infections in Metro Manila and the Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces—which government collectively calls the NCR Plus "bubble."
As of Wednesday, the Philippines has logged 684,311 COVID-19 cases with a record-high of 91,754 active infections. More than 13,000 have died from the deadly pathogen while 579,518 others have recovered.
FROM THE ARCHIVES