PHL needs investments to create jobs – official (GMANews online)

In line with efforts to create more jobs and achieve inclusive growth, Philippine economic managers are pushing for higher foreign direct investments (FDI) – as much as 20 percent a year, a Cabinet official said Tuesday. 

Government is eyeing “significant and steady” increases of 15 to 20 percent in yearly FDI, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said during a panel discussion at the Philippine Economic Briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. 

Domingo said Philippines registered $2.2 billion in net foreign direct investments in the first half and is likely on its way to at least matching the $2.8 billion as of end-2012. 

Continued improvements in the country's business competitiveness and in addressing key infrastructure bottlenecks will shore up more direct investments to create jobs and alleviate poverty, the Cabinet official said.

“Improvements in government purchases and making [transactions] more of a level playing field are really keys,” said Domingo. “The Aquino administration's good governance agenda has captured the imagination of the entire world,” he added.

At the same briefing, private sector counterpart Guillermo Luz – co-chairman and of the National Competitiveness Council under the Trade Department – noted the Philippine desire to reach the middle third from the bottom third in terms of global competitiveness. 

“We've made gains,” Luz said, citing improvement in rankings of various business surveys like the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index released early September. 

“We're well on our way to meet our target,” he said. 

Other than constant improvements in financial and labor market competitiveness, Luz said there is a need to focus on investments in infrastructure, health, technology and the environment. 

For Securities and Exchange Commission, chairperson Teresita Herbosa said the commission has dropped some documentary requirements in business registration. 

The SEC submitted a final draft of amendments to the Corporation Code, which aims to tighten rules on board of directors and mergers, she said. 

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Jacinto Henares said the bureau is going for systems automation to speed up processes and ease investment hurdles. 

Government is also working on increasing domestic investments which also create jobs. “We need both foreign and local direct investments. We need investments that create jobs,” according to the BIR chief.

Philippine unemployment rate was up to 7.3 percent in July from 7.0 percent a year earlier, latest government data showed.

The Philippine jobless rate belies the economic growth recorded at 7.5 percent in the second quarter, the fastest in Southeast Asia.