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In the Zone


PEZA Director Charito Plaza reveals her agency’s strategies to boost the country’s economic growth




Business is the lifeblood of a country’s development. This is why choosing the right people to run business-oriented agencies in government is crucial. President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Dr. Charito “Ching” Plaza as Director General of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) because her long track record in the government and academe shows that she’s capable of doing the Herculean job.

The former Butuan representative forged healthy partnerships with government leaders from the barangay up to the provincial and overseas levels. She is a catalystof change. She has built bridges of friendship where none used to be to bring the benefits of public service down to the masses, where they belong.

Known as the “Mother of the Caraga Region,” Plaza authored a bill making Caraga the 17th region in the
country. Because of this, the area down South enjoys most, if not all, of the benefits of development other regions in the country do. In the same manner, the country benefits from developing Caraga’s rich natural resources.

As brigadier general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Force, Plaza has the innate discipline to keep on going, even when the situation seems tough.

Now that the government is poised to implement the second part of TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Law, PEZA has launched a nationwide campaign eyeing the countryside as engines of growth. Plaza’s office aims to do this by tapping basic crop industries to make sure every
Filipino has access to food.

In so doing, Plaza’s office wants to lower imports to raise local productivity and the country’s ability to manufacture goods. PEZA also aims to maximize the use of local products and supplies, raise export levels, and address the issue of domestic needs and supplies.

PEZA is also tapping as many financial offices as it can so more investments could flow into the country.
It has reached an accord with 23 institutions, including six Japanese banks, state universities, and government offices.

Plaza said the Japanese banks PEZA has memorandum of agreements with are Mizuho Bank, Bank of
Tokyo Mitsubishi, Sumitomo-Mitsui Banking Corp., Resona Bank, Ogahi-Kyoritsu Bank, and Tokyo Star Bank.

These banking institutions have extended credit financing facilities to Filipino companies.

Since PEZA also takes care of registering and administering investments, Plaza has reached out to government agencies and forged agreements to make sure public lands are tapped as economic zones.

One of this aggressive campaign’s landmark results is PEZA’s tie-up with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Five-hectare ancestral domains are being eyed as ecozones, and PEZA will reach out to indigenous people on how to make their pieces of land more productive and earn more through rentals. This will also
create jobs and raise income levels.

PEZA also wants to make ecozones out of lands owned by PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management), which manages the Energy Department’s properties. These properties are adjacent to power stations, so they’re a magnet for investors.

Another agreement, this time with the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges, targets the construction of a Knowledge Innovation Science Technology (KIST) park in these State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). Plaza explains that these SUCs have land assets that make up thousands of hectares, most of them idle.

No wonder Plaza is upbeat about investments in the country this year. She thinks her office, which is now on its 23rd year, can beat last year’s track record of P237.57 billion in investment pledges and
$51.28 billion in realized export sales.

The target this year is a 10 percent increase in investment pledges, even as Plaza expressed concern over the prospect of investors backing out if the incentives they’re banking on are challenged.

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