MANILA -- The Board of Investments (BOI) eyes to increase investment approvals for 2018 by around 10 percent from pledges in 2017.

In a press conference Monday, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said the agency targets to approve a total of PHP680 billion worth of investment pledges this year from PHP617 billion commitments last year.

Rodolfo said the BOI expects that the country will attract more investments in manufacturing sector both from local and foreign sources given the robust gross domestic product (GDP), which is driven by strong domestic consumption.

Aside from manufacturing, the BOI sees huge potential for investments in construction not only from public sector but from businesses as well, backed by the planned infrastructure projects of the government.

It was in 2017 that the BOI recorded its highest investment approvals for the past 50 years, increasing by 39.5 percent from PHP442-billion pledges registered in 2016.

It also exceeded its PHP500-billion investment approvals target for its 50th anniversary.

Highest commitments in 2017 were recorded in sectors of power and energy, infrastructure and public-private partnership (PPP) projects, manufacturing, as well as real estate and mass housing.

Moreover, Rodolfo noted that investments from foreign sources are also expected this year, which already expressed their intentions to do business in the Philippines following the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to different countries since he took office in 2016.

“We are expecting to see investments in steel making, petrochemical, shipbuilding, and other big ticket industrial projects from foreign investors,” the trade official said in Filipino.

He, however, noted that not all of these commitments will be registered with the BOI.

Rodolfo pointed out that BOI’s incentives are directed for domestic investments and not really towards foreign direct investments (FDI).

Majority of BOI-approved investments are from domestic sources, sharing 80 percent or more of the total pledges.

Moreover, the trade official said the BOI may register more FDI in the coming years as the administration pushes for the second package of its comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) for this year.

Rodolfo said the BOI and the Department of Finance (DOF) are looking at giving incentives to foreign investors under the Package 2 of the CTRP.

The second package of the CTRP involves reforms on corporate income tax and fiscal incentives.

DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said the department is set to submit the second package of the tax reform program within this month. (PNA)