So much national energy has been expended on the pandemic and raging national politics that we also need to look at industries that would fare well post COVID-19.

                         The BPO industry beat the recession by increasing revenues in 2020 by 1.4 percent from 2019 at $26.7 billion. Contrary to general fears, even the OFW remittances just slightly slipped in 2020 by less than 1.0 percent at $33.2 billion. Among the Philippines’ three top dollar earners, it was only tourism that took the biggest hit,  slipping by a massive 83 percent in 2020 from 2019’s $11.5-billion footings.

                         Likewise, only the tourism sector to include the hospitality and rest and  recreation (including the airlines) ancillaries tied to tourists will have a slow and painful recovery compared to the other two.

                     The BOI (Board of Investments) had reported foreign direct investment applications in the power sector, food manufacturing and real estate (specifically mass housing). Power in the nation, as we know, is the second most expensive in Asia.

                    Lockdowns caused the explosion in e-commerce particularly touching on food and retail essentials that saw the strengthening of the delivery systems and even (industrial and commercial warehousing) as the foot traffic in malls and restaurants slackened.

                   Regional transportation hubs are seen to be encouraged as they are key to robust commerce in the areas. Notice the economic strength of areas with international airports and seaports, to start with.

                   Digitalization of most transactions is forthcoming and the national ID system will open commercial and banking possibilities even in the rural areas. Research and development will be an emphasis with the aim to commercialize some viable intellectual properties as global modern technology will grow exponentially.

                The work-from-home phenomenon (from 50- to even 90 percent of some workforce) seems to somewhat threaten the market for office real estate market.There are current studies, however, that seem to point out that productivity for work-from-home-workers is decelerating such that back to office work will be back in vogue; at worst a hybrid in favor of it.

                  As businesses rehire more workers and neo-entrepreneurs brave the new world of gradual post-pandemic realities, demand for middle-income residential real estate and mid-size cars will see a slight rebound. 

                  On the BPO side, we can see the renewed growth of the so-called community-based districts operations centered on the new 25 digital cities where firms will be set up 25 minutes away from workers’ homes and short distances to beach resorts in island communities. To cite examples, Dumaguete  City is a burgeoning BPO industry and Tagbilaran City is currently developing theirs.

                Because of the many lessons in the pandemic, people are looking at the performance of the medical-pharmaceutical Economic Zone in Bulacan which is currently producing vaccines and other essential drugs.Investment in the health care systems brick and mortars like hospitals and clinics is expected to rebound strongly with the nation realizing the weakness of the same in addressing pandemic issues of mass hospitalization.

                Buttressed by highly partisan forthcoming national polls in 2022, mainstream media revenues are expected to recover markedly as will allied election-propaganda-related industries.

                The PEZA (economic zones) which houses 1.6 million workers is expected to find new homes in the provinces which will raise income levels and lessen crime rates as a consequence- spurring demand for specialized real estate sites there.

               PEZA firms enjoy various incentives like VAT exemption, a proposed 2-year Special PEZA Visa for players, dedicated credit facilities, a separate Customs presence and other benefits accruing from the implementation of the new CREATE Law.

                It was disclosed that Cavite PEZA firms enjoy P5/kwh power rate vs. P12/kwh (others) while those in Mactan get P7/kwh compared to P14/kwh outside. Many COVID-related non-recurring expenses have reportedly been allowed to be chargeable to operating expenses for these firms as well. PEZA should continue to be a preferred location for new investors.

            The BPO industry continues to attract surging demand from the reallocation of resources attendant to some fall-out from India (our main rival) even as global investors are sensitive to the politically volatile Hong  Kong and the overloaded cables in Singapore. 

            Of course, investors look at the finalization of the new Retail Law, the Foreign Investment Act and the Public Service Act and the continuation of the bias towards infrastructure getting its just share in the National Budget.

          Likewise the full implementation of the “Central Business Portals,” a veritable one-stop shop for clearances needed for the environment and energy and especially the approval of the LGU (local government units).

           Is there life after the pandemic? Government and the private sector must jointly get their acts together to achieve that sooner than later.

(Bingo Dejaresco, a former banker, is a financial consultant, media practitioner and book author. He is a Life Member and Media member of Finex. His views here, however, are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Finex.

Source: Manila Bulletin (