‘Drama-free’ PEZA is key, says Salceda

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Taxation, on Sunday called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to appoint the head of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority who could improve investor confidence in the country and fight against smuggling.

“Drama-free is key,” Salceda said.

He said the President must appoint a CEO of PEZA “as soon as he can find a suitable person”, adding that “the issue of leadership on PEZA threatens our ability to maximize favorable conditions for exports”.

Salceda was referring to competing claims to the post between Duterte-era PEZA director general Charito Plaza and deputy director general in charge Tereso Panga.

“Only PBBM can put an end to the confusion for good through a date. The PEZA law very clearly states that the chief executive is appointed by the president,” the Albay lawmaker said.

A PEZA director general is essential in the fight against smuggling, Salceda added.

“With a weak peso, the best thing we can do, economically, is to focus on exports and industries and services that earn dollars. The leadership problem in PEZA will make investors think that our investment regime is too politicized and therefore risky,” he explained.

“This means that we surely get the bad parts of a weak currency, such as high import prices, but we are prevented from taking advantage of the best parts, such as the higher value of exports against the peso and prices more competitive export markets,” noted Salceda.

The lawmaker said he was particularly concerned that “if the dispute drags on into congressional budget hearings, the institution will suffer.”

“PEZA’s chief executive submits the agency’s budget to the board, and without a chief executive, we might not be clear about what budget to discuss in Congress,” he explained.