Other BPO firms moving away from PEZA to continue WFH setup — DOF

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 1) — Other players in the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry began to withdraw from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to heed the call of workers to keep the work-from-home setup, an official said on Friday.

Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez said the government only required companies registered in investment promotion agencies (IPAs), like PEZA, to be on location beginning April 1 so they could continue to enjoy tax incentives.

As COVID-19 infections decline, and with more Filipinos now vaccinated against the virus, Alvarez said it is high-time for workers in companies within ecozones to return to work.

But if IT-BPM companies want to extend the work-from-home arrangement, they register as normal corporations or with the Board of Investments (BOI), she said.

"What we've been telling them is the same incentives if you fall under the BOI-covered incentives under the different tiers then maybe just register with the BOI because that business model works for you," she told CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

Asked if the government sees PEZA locators shifting to the BOI, Alvarez said foreign direct investments under the BOI increased.

"We have other locators who are now deregistering from PEZA and registering as normal corporations," she said. "This is balancing of your expenses. If you don't want to locate to PEZA because of rent, other expenses then you can opt for the regular corporate income tax."

Alvarez said not all locators of PEZA and IPAs are against the government's order.

"Others actually are willingly going back to the ecozones. I think this is a matter of reviewing how you want to manage your corporation," she said.

From 2016 to 2019, Alvarez said IT-BPM firms have enjoyed an average of ₱26.30 billion in total tax incentives.

Meanwhile, BPO Industry Employees’ Network Pilipinas treasurer Arcy Parayno said companies should hike the salary of those workers who will report to the office amid surging prices of fuel and basic commodities.

Parayno said the government should provide assistance to BPO workers. The group also said the government should reconsider allowing a hybrid work model.