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DOE, DTI fuse for new deals

Hananeel Bordey

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The Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have partnered to find ways to attract foreign investors, DoE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said during the Joint Congressional Energy Committee hearing.

Cusi said the energy sector will take part in pushing reforms to attract more businesses in the country as many investors are moving out of China amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“During the last economic cluster meeting, it was agreed that DOE and the DTI will meet and discuss ways to make the Philippines competitive and become attractive to foreign investors,” Cusi said.

Both agencies will also ask the private sector’s participation to “find ways” to make the Philippines more attractive like its neighboring countries namely Vietnam and Indonesia, according to the DoE chief.

“The agenda in the last meeting was what made Indonesia or Vietnam attractive for those companies that would like to relocate outside of China. So we want to be able to participate on that and make the Philippines competitive,” Cusi told the joint congressional panel.

Not getting big chunk

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez admitted during the proceeding that the Philippines is being left behind in attracting investors moving out of China as a result of the pandemic which was believed to have started in Hubei province.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has pointed out that businessmen particularly manufacturing company owners are planning to relocate to other southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The lawmaker said neighboring countries were the first choices due to their resources and raw materials.

Lopez affirmed Drilon’s statement explaining that the Philippines is still getting deals but not the majority.

“I will admit that we are not getting the biggest chunk, nevertheless, we continue to improve the environment. Only then can we maximize attracting companies but we will not end up empty handed,” Lopez added.

The DTI chief explained that they are already taking steps to boost business attraction to the Philippines particularly through liberalization, opening up the economy, infrastructure build-up, various tax reforms, and foreign investments.

Currently, Lopez said there are China-based companies which are considering relocation to the Philippines including 24 businesses that are already processing their relocation to the country.

Strategic stock

“Here in our country, we are looking at available facilities to build up strategic supply which we can get very cheap and later use these when prices climb higher and we are talking here of petroleum,” Cusi said.

He said the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) is already studying the strategic inventory of crude oil so that the consumers will also benefit from the low cost of crude oil.

“We are studying how to do this through PNOC and hopefully, we can do this since we have a limited time. We might do this together with the industry players,” the DoE chief noted.

“The ultimate beneficiary of our efforts should be the consumers and that is the ultimate goal of our review,” he added.

Cusi explained that the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine has resulted to depressed prices of petroleum products and industry players were struggling as they have purchased their supply at a higher price before the ECQ was implemented but they were forced to sell it at a lower rate.

“Of course they were able to replenish with cheaper supply,” he added.

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