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The Outsourcing Week in Review: Thursday, May 6, 2021

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Welcome to Inside Outsourcing: The Outsourcing Week in Review

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

The month of May started with the announcement of yet another extension of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces until May 14. According to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos, border controls will remain intact. However, there have been changes in terms of loosening some of the restrictions of some business activities.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that the 6.5 to 7.5% GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth target wouldn’t be possible this year if the Greater Manila area were under MECQ. Chua recommended shifting to General Community Quarantine – the loosest quarantine restriction – by the end of May. For now, due to the extended COVID restrictions, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) lowered its GDP growth forecast for the Philippines from 6.5% to 4.5%.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and investment promotions agency Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) are pushing to lift the moratorium on the establishment of new Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) operations in Metro Manila. PEZA Deputy Director General Tereso Panga noted that the agency will use the newly-enacted Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) Law as a basis in lifting the pre-COVID executive order. Inside Outsourcing reported on the Executive Order No. 18, issued in June 2019, which was designed to discourage Metro Manila over-development and encourage BPO locators to invest in the provinces.

The executive order has shown to be quite effective – even despite the pandemic. Due to the varied availability in economic zones, real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield stated that many developers were now investing in urban areas outside Metro Manila, such as Pampanga, Cebu, and Davao. Further, there has been a noticeable demand for smaller office spaces, as companies transfer from their unused large headquarters. According to real estate firm Eton Properties Philippines Inc., companies have decided to shift to a smaller office space to cut down on expensive office costs.

In support of hefty prices, research conducted by database platform Numbeo revealed that Metro Manila is the third most expensive city in Southeast Asia to live in – next only to Singapore and Thailand.

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To ensure the welfare and safety of BPO workers in the country, Senator Leila de Lima filed Senate Bill No. 2149 – a bill that seeks to promote the health and overall well-being of BPO employees. According to the senator, the bill “aims to institutionalize more equitable arrangements to protect both labor and capital so that this industry will continue to thrive – this time in a robust environment that balances both the interests and welfare of employers and employees.”

Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Jose Concepcion III has proposed to get at least 80 per cent of workers the COVID-19 vaccination in order to get the economic recovery started. Once 80% of workers are inoculated, Concepcion said the economy can then be fully opened – and he proposed that this could be done by the 4th quarter. In line with this, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said the Philippines is set to receive 2.3 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next month.

In other BPO news, global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) provider Helpware launched The Helpcare Foundation, a “consortium of BPO providers, customers and individuals coming together to fight childhood cancers across the globe.” According to Helpware CEO and Helpcare Foundation President Robert Nash, “The Helpcare Foundation is an opportunity for the BPO and Services sector to make a dynamic impact in the global communities in which we live and work each day.”

More outsourcing firms are planning on workforce expansion over the next few years. Overseas, BPO firm ibex is looking to expand its Jamaican workforce from 2,000 to 10,000. Country director Jaime Vergara said ibex has grown 397% in the last three years in Jamaica.

In addition, leading customer experience provider Everise announced its plans to permanently retain its hybrid remote and office-based operations as it also seeks to expand its Philippine workforce.

Lastly, good news for foreign nationals! The Philippines has lifted its entry ban on foreign nationals as of May 1.  The country is now allowing access to all foreigners with valid visas and pre-booked accommodation.

 

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Thursday, May 6, 2021

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About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.