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Clark ready to accept BPO investments

Vol. XXII, No. 186-A [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Saturday, April 25, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES


Business leaders and state officials pushed for more business process outsourcing (BPO) investments to the Clark Freeport in a bid to spread the industry’s spillover benefits to areas other than Metro Manila and Cebu.

Speakers at a forum yesterday pointed out the freeport’s ready infrastructure and human resources, but noted that the government will have to upgrade transportation networks to make the area more accessible from the capital.

"The BPO industry will grow 20-30% in 2009. We hope the expansion will happen beyond Manila and Cebu," Business Processing Association of the Philippines Chief Executive Officer Oscar R. Sanez said at the forum in Angeles City, Pampanga.

"There are 10,000 workers in Clark for [the sector]. We think it can handle more than that," he added.

Mr. Sanez pointed to the existing universities in the area, adequate telecommunication infrastructure and property developments.

Clark is currently enjoying some of the sector’s growth, Clark Development Corp. President Benigno N. Ricafort said.

Four BPO firms will be hiring 2,400 more workers this year, he said.

iQor will be hiring 400 more agents to add to its 1,000 workforce while Sutherland Global Services, Inc. will need 1,000 more on top of its 1,900 workers, Mr. Ricafort said. Cybercity Teleservices (2,600 workers now) and E-Telecare (1,100) will each be hiring 500 more this year, he added.

Monchito B. Ibrahim, head of the Philippine Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), for his part pointed out that Angeles and Mabalacat cities are ranked 6th on the top ten next wave cities for BPOs.

The nine other cities are Metro Laguna and Metro Cavite, Iloilo, Davao, Bacolod, Baliuag-Marilao-Meycuayan, Cagayan de Oro, Malolos-Calumpit and Lipa.

"We would like to spread the benefits of [the BPO] sector to other cities. We’re very glad Clark’s [Diosdado Macapagal International Airport] is being pushed as the premier airport of the country now," Mr. Ibrahim said at the forum.

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) Executive Vice-President Henry J. Schumacher, meanwhile, said that transportation infrastructure will have to be built to connect the freeport to the international airport in Metro Manila and the business districts there.

"[A BPO investor] will not move until we have a system that will move people... and connect them to Makati," Mr. Schumacher said.

Mr. Schumacher also renewed calls for the Philippines to direct its investment promotion efforts to Europe which he claimed is an untapped market.

"The Philippines delivers only 10% of its BPO output to Europe. The Philippines is not visible in major information technology and BPO events [there] so Europe pursues other options [like] North and South Africa, Eastern Europe and India," Mr. Schumacher said. — Jessica Anne D. Hermosa

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