nvestments approved by the Board of Investments (BOI) jumped by 30 percent to P273 billion as of mid-July on the back of big-ticket projects, such as San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 7 project, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo expressed confidence that investment approvals by the end of July could reach P290 billion.

“In January to June, growth was flat at 0.81 percent to P188 billion, from P186 billion last year. But mid-July, in our last board meeting, we saw a 30-percent increase. We’re now at P273 billion, from P210 billion last yetar,” Rodolfo told reporters in an interview.

He said the figure may likely reach P290 billion as another board meeting may be scheduled before the end of July. “We still have more projects in the pipeline worth around P18 billion that is expected to be approved before July ends,” Rodolfo added.

Projects approved by the BOI are expected to create 56,056 jobs, 50 percent higher than figure recorded last year. The BOI, an attached agency of the DTI, green lighted the grant of fiscal incentives to 245 projects, including the P79-billion MRT 7 project of SMC.

The construction of the 23-kilometer railway line, passing through 14 stations, will run from North Avenue in Quezon City to San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan. A second component of the project entails a 22-km, six-lane asphalt road from Bocaue interchange in North Luzon Expressway to the intermodal terminal in Tala, Caloocan.

The project is entitled to a four-year income-tax holiday and duty-free importation of capital equipment. The BOI is still eyeing to surpass its target of approving P500 billion in investments this year. The government is confident this can be attained due to the influx of projects from Chinese investors.

“The P290 billion we expect by the end of the month represents nearly 60 percent of our goal to reach P 500 billion this year, in line with the BOI’s 50th founding anniversary, so we are on pace to achieve that mark,” Rodolfo said.

By Catherine Pillas