THE Philippines is in the top 10 of potential investment destinations for Singapore businesses, the Department of Finance said.
In a statement Tuesday, the DoF said the Philippines emerged as a top pick of respondents to the Singapore Business Federation’s (SBF) National Business Survey.
Singapore was the second largest foreign investor in the Philippines last year and its largest export market in the region, SBF Chairman Teo Siong Seng said at a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III along with a 21-member delegation from Singapore.
Mr. Teo said that Singapore firms see “untapped opportunities” in the digital and information technology sector of the Philippines that they can service.
“While many Singapore companies have established operations in the Philippines in industries such as manufacturing and infrastructure, there are untapped opportunities in areas such as information technology and digital solutions, which our companies with the capabilities will be able to take up,” he was quoted as saying.
Keppel Corp. CEO Loh Chin Hua said his company is exploring options to expand its investment in the country, citing the flagship “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the government.
“For Keppel, we have operated two shipyards in the Philippines, and we are now looking to see how we can do more here,” Mr. Loh was quoted as saying.
Mr. Dominguez told the delegation the Philippines will not completely eliminate investment incentives in the course of reforming the tax system and will only make incentives them performance-based, timebound, targeted and transparent.
“So that is what we are willing to give incentives to. We are willing to give incentives to engineering companies, we are willing to give incentives to companies for large data analysis, robotics,” he said.
He was referring to the proposed Corporate Income Tax Incentives Reform Act (CITIRA) which bagged third and final reading at the House of Representatives on Sept. 13. The counterpart bill is now going through the Senate.
Mr. Teo said that the Philippines’ economic and social progress make it more “attractive and compelling” for Singapore investors.
“Singapore and the Philippines have always enjoyed close economic ties. As we celebrate 50 years of bilateral relations with the Philippines, we look forward to more great years ahead of getting our business communities to collaborate more closely so we can ride the ASEAN growth story together,” he added. — Beatrice M. Laforga