PEZA hopes moratorium on NCR ecozones will be lifted within the year

THE MORATORIUM on new economic zones (ecozones) in the National Capital Region (NCR) is expected to be lifted within the year, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said.
PEZA Director-General Tereso O. Panga said Malacañang appears receptive to lifting the moratorium, which has been in place since June 2019.
“We met with the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) and the Office of the President (OP) and they’re inclined to support our position that the moratorium under Administrative Order (AO) 18 is effectively superseded by the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law,” Mr. Panga told reporters on July 13.
Issued by then-President Rodrigo R. Duterte, AO No. 18 declared a moratorium on the approvals of new ecozones in the NCR in order to boost countryside development.
The PEZA believes the moratorium should be lifted to align policy with provisions of the CREATE law, which makes no distinction between economic zones established in the capital region or elsewhere.
“We hope it could happen within the year since it is in the CREATE law. In the industry and locational tier, it has identified Metro Manila as part of Tier I and then information and communications technology (ICT) eligible activities for Metro Manila locations,” Mr. Panga said.
He noted most developers seeking to establish ecozones in Metro Manila usually focus on information technology (IT) projects. 
Mr. Panga said the PEZA is awaiting Malacañang’s proclamation for the establishment of an IT center in Metro Manila.
PEZA earlier said it had prequalified an ecozone project worth P4.12 billion that would establish an IT center in Makati City.
“Actually, we’re awaiting now the proclamation of an IT center located in Metro Manila. That will now trigger and pave the way for the others to be proclaimed as well. That will now be the precedent,” Mr. Panga said, adding the PEZA has already endorsed 10-20 projects in Metro Manila for the President’s approval.
Mr. Panga said the creation of new ecozones in NCR would address concerns that there is a lack of office space for new players in the IT sector.
“IT locators, especially the new entrants, the preferred location is actually Metro Manila. That’s where they will set up their initial operations, and then later on they will move to provinces for expansion projects,” he said.
“Some of the local government units in Metro Manila are not hosting at all any IT projects. So if they do, they want to take advantage of this lifting of moratorium,” he added.   
Sought for comment, Leechiu Property Consultants Chief Executive Officer David Leechiu said in a Viber message that lifting the moratorium on new ecozones in NCR would be positive for the property sector.
“This is a fantastic development. This move will encourage more business process outsourcing firms to expand in the Philippines and after which they will expand in the provinces. This will encourage more development and improve investor confidence in the Philippines,” Mr. Leechiu said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave