MANILA, March 22, 2004 (STAR) By Marianne V. Go - President Arroyo has approved the Investment Priorities Plan for 2004, listing the preferred economic sectors that would be eligible for the government’s package of fiscal incentives.

The 2004 IPP includes new areas of activities such as medical tourism, environmental services packaging, and petrochemicals.Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Cesar Purisima said the incentives are given to these sectors "to further develop needed industries and install vital facilities."

He reiterated that the government "would like to develop medical tourism since our healthcare service industry provides not only quality, but also competitive rates."

Purisima said the government continues to encourage businesses to install vital facilities that aim to preserve the environment.

These include the establishment of toxic and hazardous waste facilities; testing and measuring services for industrial/institutional point of sources of emission and effluent, and other related environmental parameters for machinery and equipment, excluding motor vehicles; river system rehabilitation; and clean development mechanism projects.

Purisima added the government also wants to develop the country’s packaging facilities that uses high-technology and brand-new equipment which are vital to some sectors, especially the food export industry.

The DTI head also explained that incentives are again being offered to the petrochemical industry, which covers upstream (naphtha cracker) and midstream activities (polymerization plant which produces polyethylene, polypropylene, etc.)

However, Purisima said only one industry cluster would be allowed per province, which will be endorsed by the DTI’s Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council (SMEDC).

In the absence of an operational SMEDC at the provincial/regional level, the DTI provincial/regional offices would make the endorsements.

The preferred areas for investment in the 2004 IPP are listed under the national and regional list.

The national list includes export activities, mandatory inclusions and other preferred activities, while the regional list accounts for the industry clusters and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Export activities cover export producers, service exporters and activities supporting exporters.

Mandatory inclusion covers activities wherein the grant of activities is required under existing laws such as industrial tree plantation, iron and steel, publication or printing of books or textbooks, and ecological waste management.

Other preferred activities are agriculture/fishery production and processing, energy sources, logistics, drugs and medicines.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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