INCOMING Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said his focus will be to promote the economy’s digital transformation, adding that he expects to redirect the effort to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) towards technology industries, particularly data centers.
Mr. Pascual said the digitalization effort will begin with his own future agency, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“One of my priorities is to promote digital transformation of the DTI and all our functions as well as (the transformation of) micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and other enterprises,” Mr. Pascual said in a television interview on Monday.
“Government agencies like DTI that do both regulation and development work will be more efficient and effective (with digitalization),” he added.
Mr. Pascual added: “Bringing in FDI is one of my priorities given that we need the capital to support economic growth and provide jobs. We will try to give priority to investors that are in high-tech industries. There is the growing need for data center(s) in various cases outside, for example, the US. Since we are connected by fiber optic cable to important countries, then we could be a logical location,” Mr. Pascual said.
He said one of the consequences of digitalization is to enhance consumer protection by providing “information on suggested retail prices (SRPs) of practically any commodity. That is the way to approach it. Provide the consumers with the information to serve as the basis for their decision so that there will be no retailer or seller who takes advantage of their lack of knowledge,” he added.
Mr. Pascual said he is also studying on a “recovery package” targeted at MSMEs that have suffered from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Most of those… are actually in frontline businesses like restaurants, tourism, (and) entertainment. We’ll see whether a recovery package is in order. I have to look closely at the situation before deciding on this. But there are tools that we can use… It’s a matter of matching the need with the right instrument,” Mr. Pascual said.
The current Trade Secretary, Ramon M. Lopez, said in a statement on Monday that the 2022 Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP), which was approved by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on May 24, will spur a revival of industry.
“The approval by the President of the SIPP is opportune, as the country is heading towards economic recovery. This will catalyze industrial development,” Mr. Lopez said in his statement.
“The SIPP serves as an engine toward the national industrial revolution to beef up industries and yield more diversified, complex, and sophisticated products and services,” he added.
Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BoI) managing head, said that the SIPP will help the economic recovery continue.
“The SIPP has an enormous role in our goal of bouncing back from the economic ramifications brought about by the pandemic. The SIPP will sustain the momentum towards economic recovery, as it will urgently create and recover jobs,” Mr. Rodolfo said.
The 2022 SIPP outlines the economic and business activities that will be preferred for investment incentives under Republic Act No. 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act. SIPP takes effect 15 days upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
“Particularly, the SIPP adopts the 2020 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) as Tier I — the base structure for Philippine development; it (identifies) products or services which are not locally produced, for consideration for Tier II; and identifies high technology activities critical to the transformation of the economy and attracting technology investments for Tier III,” the DTI said.
“The SIPP supersedes the 2020 IPP which served as the transitional SIPP to ensure the continued promotion of investment and processing of qualified projects,” it added.
Under the new SIPP, Tier 1 consists of preferred activities listed by the 2020 IPP, which include all qualified activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic containment effort.
Tier 2 refers to activities that will plug gaps in the industrial value chains such as those related in promoting green ecosystems, develop a dependable health system, attain self-reliance in defense systems, and transform agriculture.
In Tier 3 are activities that will boost the transformation of the economy and use technologies such as automation, smart machines, industrial internet of things (IIOT), cloud computing, cognitive computing, advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing.
“We are truly making it happen in the Philippines, as the SIPP aims to hasten the transformation of the economy into a modern and efficient one with highly-developed infrastructure,” Mr. Rodolfo said. — Revin MIkhael D. Ochave