BPO sector seeks permanent set up

This was a long time coming but we are glad and relieved that finally, the FIRB listened to the voice of the industry

Philippine Economic Zone Authority OIC-director general Tereso Panga says he treats the Fiscal Incentives Review Board to provisionally extend the work from home set up for IT-BPM workers as good news but still hopes for a better decision extending it until March 2023. | Photograph courtesy of Teo Panga’s Facebook page

September 12, 2022

Following the provisional extension of the work-from-home set-up announced on Friday by the Cabinet-level Fiscal Incentives Review Board, the country’s biggest organization of the IT-BPM industry expressed relief from the decision, although they expressed hope for a long-term resolution.

Finance Secretary and FIRB chairperson Benjamin Diokno retained the 70 percent onsite and 30 percent WFH arrangement “until further notice” for workers under the IT-BPM sector under the FIRB formally disclosed its final verdict for its extension until March 2023 being pushed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines.

“This was a long time coming but we are glad and relieved that finally, the FIRB listened to the voice of the industry and the investors, and most importantly to the voice of employees who have been working very effectively from a location independence setup since the onset of the pandemic. But we are looking forward to a more permanent and long-term solution,” Jack Madrid, president, and CEO of IBPAP, said.

He maintained that the industry, in a hybrid setup, has been experiencing extremely high productivity levels without any dip in customer satisfaction ratings from its global customers through the pandemic, a no small feat having to migrate and mobilize 1 million employees from on-site operations, as well as their IT equipment, to work from home setup.

“This need for, and importance of a hybrid work setup is a worldwide phenomenon and we have just been communicating to our partners in the government to attract and retain global investors, and even grow our industry even more,” he said.

He added the country’s tough competitor in the industry, India, has even enacted a 50-50 WFH setup just to maintain the robustness of their industry even amid the current pandemic.

PEZA OIC-director general Tereso Panga, for his part, calls out partner agencies, under the leadership and guidance of DTI Secretary and PEZA Board Chairman Alfredo Pascual, to address ecozone industry issues and “get our acts together as we formulate policies to enhance ease of doing business in the ecozones as well as promote and facilitate investments.”

He said the decision of the FIRB was “good news” for them but said PEZA will wait for the FIRB’s final decision regarding their request for an extension of WFH until March 2023.

Non-extension hurts industry

Pascual, during the DTI’s budget deliberation at the House of Representatives told lawmakers that the non-extension of the WFH beyond the 12 September 2022 deadline will be detrimental to the whole BPO industry.

He said the industry faces a hurdle at the FIRB, as one member of the board is opposing the WFH extension.

“We have passed a resolution at the PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) level to extend the 30-70 work-from-home, on-site work to be extended up to the end of the year, 2022. The opposition is coming based on the fact that the emergency ends on 12 Sept. So, if there is no emergency, the legal opinion is that we can’t just extend it,” Pascual told lawmakers.

“I think we’re banking on the fact that the emergency will be extended up to the end of the year. Otherwise, it’s going to be bad, you know, for the country,” Pascual added.

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