By Elijah Felice Rosales, March 31 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to PTV News

Investments approved by the Board of Investments (BOI) in the first quarter accelerated 60 percent to P243 billion on the back of a surge in offshore commitments.

Investment pledges registered with the BOI from January to March grew 59.76 percent to P243 billion, from P152.1 billion during the same period last year.

Domestic investments accounted for the lion’s share at P212.2 billion—up 40.25 percent—from P151.3 billion, while foreign commitments jumped to P31 billion, from P793 million.

The Netherlands was the country’s largest source of foreign investments with P9.1 billion, followed by Thailand with P8.4 billion, Japan with P5.3 billion and the United States with P2.2 billion.

Trade Secretary and BOI Chairman Ramon M. Lopez said the agency was able to sustain its momentum from last year—when investment pledges hit an all-time high P915 billion—due to positive investor sentiment here and abroad. With this, he is bullish the BOI can hit its ambitious target of P1 trillion this year.

“We expect the growth to continue for the rest of the year, as we aim to approve at least P1 trillion in total investments,” the trade chief said over the weekend.

The first-quarter commitments were channeled to energy projects (P148 billion), manufacturing (P43 billion), and information and communications technology (P33.2 billion).

Among the projects approved by the BOI in the first quarter were the P96-billion new operator of the 2×350-megawatt coal-fired thermal power plant in Batangas by St. Raphael Power Generation Corp.; and the P47-billion renewable-energy developer of wind energy resources in Rizal and Quezon by Rizal Wind Energy Corp.

The BOI also authorized Metroworks ICT Construction Inc. to carry out its P33-billion new operator of telecommunications infrastructure.

Further, the BOI approved the P12.6-billion new producer of cement in Bulacan by Holcim Philippines Inc.; the P12.4-billion new producer of cement in Rizal by Solid Cement Corp.; and the P8.4-billion new producer of corrugated fiberboard in Bulacan. It also permitted Robinsons Land Corp. to continue with its P2.3-billion new operator of tourist accommodation facility in Cebu.

Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said projects undergo stringent evaluation.

For one, he said proponents of power projects are required to submit positive official endorsement from the Departments of Energy and of Environment and Natural Resources.

Further, they are mandated to commit to emission standards more stringent than local and international requirements.

“Failure to meet these commitments would mean forfeiture of incentives,” Rodolfo added.

By region, Southern Tagalog received the largest share of investments with P162 billion, trailed by Central Luzon with P25.9 billion. On the other hand, Metro Manila came in third with P6.1 billion.

The BOI is targeting to secure more than P1 trillion in investment commitments this year, after breaking the record books the past two years.