, SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - The various business organizations in the country welcomed yesterday the latest economic figures presented by the government, showing a higher than target growth for the second quarter of the year.

Members of the business community, including the foreign chambers of commerce and industry and local industry groups, lauded the administration for making good on its commitment to invest in and develop infrastructure and human capital which has paved the way for the entry of more investors into the country.

One of the fast-growing sectors of the economy, business process outsourcing remained bullish on the prospects of the sector in the next three years.

According to Oscar Sanez, chief executive officer of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines, the growth of the sector in the country has been sustained and has placed the Philippines as high as number two in the world next to India.

“The market size is huge based on the study and while India is the dominant leader, there is a big chance that the Philippines may be the clear number two worldwide,” he said.

Sanez noted that in 2006, the sector registered $3.5 billion in export revenue and he sees this level continuing to grow over the next three years.

“We’re looking to get as high as $12 billion by end-2010, employing about a million people, and that’s an achievable goal,” he said.

Sanez noted that human capital formation has greatly contributed to the growth of the BPO sector as investors continue to look to the Philippines because of the large base of English speaking information technology-qualified employees.

“Every week we talk to potential investors who would want to locate in the Philippines. We’re happy that we’re getting the support of not only the partners in the private sector but in the government sector, particularly the DTI and even CICT,” Sanez said.

To further expand the development of the sector, Sanez said that they are launching three major initiatives namely talent development, promoting the development of new cities outside of Metro Manila and Cebu and strengthening the business environment by promoting better BPO for investors.

The mining sector, which posted a 33 percent growth rate for the second quarter from just 3.3 percent during the same period last year, also saw further growth in the next few years.

Benjamin Philip Romualdez, president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said that the sector expects around $500 million in investments for the year.

“We are just beginning in the mineral sector to move our industries forward. This year we expect $500 million in our sector and our export growth has been doubling from last year to this year and the previous year’s as well,” Romualdez said.

For 2008, he said that another $1 billion in new investments is expected “which will certainly have a multiplier effect on the economy.”

Romualdez called on the government and the business community to help the sector in developing the downstream industries such as nickel, copper, iron and manganese production considering that the Philippines is the one of the world’s largest sources of these minerals.

“We might as well focus on small industries that can produce value-added products in the sectors that can create more jobs and we hope we can do this in the rural areas so we can decongest some of the industrial centers here in Metro Manila,” he said.

The Federation of Philippine Industries, through its president Jess Arranza, said that the investments made by the government in intellectual, physical and security infrastructure would enhance the level of confidence of the business sector.

Arranza said that the FPI has been actively involved in the government’s efforts to curb smuggling in order to recover the significant amount of revenues lost.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved