Business leaders and government officials encouraged the concerned stakeholder participants of the Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP) Roadshow in Butuan City to seriously push making the Caraga Region among the Philippines’ top investment destinations by taking advantage of the business opportunities that await them when they avail of the tax perks and relevant investment incentives under the recently-passed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.

The SIPP, a plan prepared by the BOI in coordination and consultation with the IPAs, the Fiscal Incentives and Review Board (FIRB), other government agencies administering tax incentives, and the private sector, lists the priority industries, sectors, and business projects that may qualify for investment incentives under the CREATE Act. The SIPP includes the scope and coverage of the priority activities and the industry tier categorization which influences the period of availing of incentives. The higher the industry Tier categorization, the longer the period of availing incentives.

“It’s high time for CARAGA to be serious in investment promotion, we have the land, the raw materials are in abundance,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director for Caraga Gay A. Tidalgo said, as she stressed to the participants that the region’s promotional strategy can center on highlighting Caraga’s uniqueness. She also emphasized that the region is now ready for more investments to become one of the leading regions significantly contributing towards the country’s economic recovery despite the continuing pandemic.

The Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) recently (August 16, 2022) conducted its fourth leg of the SIPP Roadshow in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, building and strengthening connections with the prospective investors and stakeholders in the Caraga region.

Composed of individual businesses, industry players, associations, business chambers, government, and private representatives, over 160 participants joined the roadshow which aims to inform investors and stakeholders of the business opportunities that they could get through the recently-approved SIPP.

During the first half of the program, the BOI Team led by Ms. Francine Roca, Ms. Valerie Venoya, and Ms. Morinaella Jeusine Torgo oriented the participants on the BOI registration requirements and procedures for bookkeepers, accountants, and consultants of the Caraga region. The BOI Team also answered various inquiries and concerns thrown by the participants regarding the investment registration processes.

The orientation on the BOI registration requirements and procedures was specifically included as part of the SIPP roadshow for Caraga following the request of stakeholders in the region to be more knowledgeable and familiar with the BOI requirements in registering eligible projects in the region.

In her remarks, Ms. Lourdes Ellen Kionisala, Chief of the BOI-Cagayan de Oro Extension Office pointed out that the priority projects classified under the SIPP would push forward economic development not only in the Caraga region but also across the country.

“Why need to be registered by the BOI? The primary reason is that your projects will be registered for numerous incentives in the form of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. This is indeed needed, as, in the Caraga region, very few are taking advantage of the incentives,” Ms. Kionisala stressed.

The highlight of the SIPP Roadshow program was the presentation of the SIPP delivered by BOI Director for Investments Policy and Planning Sandra Marie Recolizado, as she underlined the criteria for priority determination.

Director Recolizado discussed the differences under the new incentives regime of the CREATE Act, and the incentives offered to the priority projects to improve competitiveness such as income tax holiday, duty free importation, five percent special corporate income tax, and enhanced deductions. The main focus of her presentation, however, are the list of priority activities under the SIPP especially the activities under the three (3) Industry Tiers with emphasis on the need to address value chain gaps under Tier 2 and encourage R&D, innovation, and technology driven activities under Tier 3 to ensure competitiveness. She also presented the specific guidelines and requirements for the projects to qualify under the three tiers of the SIPP.

An open forum followed where officials from the BOI, the DTI, and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) answered questions from the prospective investors on the salient features of the SIPP. One-on-one consultations came in next which resulted in business interests from various companies who are all eyeing to reap the benefits of the incentives available to them.

Meanwhile, Ms. Gladys Giberson, NEDA’s Supervising Economic Development Specialist – representing Ms. Priscilla Sonido, NEDA Caraga Regional Director– presented the region’s state of the economy. She bared that the Caraga region’s economy grew by 7.2 percent in 2021, compared to the downward trend of 6.9 percent in 2020, based on the Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate.

“We are still on the right track regarding economic development, as the Caraga region is among the country’s regions with the fastest economic growth,” she said.

Despite the region’s rise of an inflation rate of 5.3 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2022, the quality of jobs has significantly improved as the underemployment rate dropped to a record low of 14.7 percent in April 2022, the NEDA official added.

Like other regions in the country, Caraga also experienced economic setbacks such as the increase in the poverty rate to 33.3 percent in 2021 and the slowing down of crop production and livestock due to inclement weather conditions and tropical storms such as Typhoon Odette. Amid the reported downsides, the Caraga region generated Php64.49 billion of production for metallic minerals in the same year but this is mostly from export of nickel ores.

Ms. Julie Portillo-Senense, Regional Governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) – Eastern Mindanao, provided the response from the private sector. She gave assurance that the Caraga businessmen would continue to be staunch partner of the government in the promotion of an innovative economy in the region. “In these trying times, today is the right time for us to become proactive. We have stood the test of times; we can call ourselves champions,” she said.

“We are united in this vision of economic recovery through projects for national incentives. We are grateful for these initiatives, as this is going to be another milestone for our national economic growth. Rest assured that the PCCI Eastern Mindanao is one with the journey, as we continue to rise from the adversity toward a resilient economy,” she added. #