BPO firms across the Philippines are complaining of loss of prospective jobs after the country’s federal government imposed a moratorium on opening up of new economic zones in Metro Manila.
The moratorium is aimed at pushing BPO firms to go rural, or expand beyond Manila, the capital city struggling to cope with the growing number of people and shrinking resources.
Some providers are complaining that smaller cities lack skilled workers and rent prices are high in some provinces.
The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), the country’s BPO lobby group, has demanded that the government withdraw its decree immediately, saying the industry may lose as many as 50,000 prospective jobs.
But the government looks adamant, with President Rodrigo R. Duterte instructing the Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) not to process any more applications seeking opening up of new economic zones in Manila.
In the meantime, some members of the lobby group have requested the president to approve at least the 22 applications pending before the agency.
The annual demand for office space in special economic zones is forecast to grow to 450,000 square meters, but only 126,940 square meters are available currently, according to IBPAP.
The lack of space for expansion, the industry body warns, will scuttle the growth of BPO companies.
The crisis comes a week after the country’s immigration officials raided a BPO facility in Laguna province, southwest of Manila, and arrested more than a hundred foreign employees on charges of working without a visa.