China is coming down on the Philippines for allowing – either directly or indirectly – gambling operators to target Chinese nationals. The country has begun to crack down on illegal domestic gambling, which has led to an increase in offshore operations targeting China. As the country puts pressure on the Philippines, however, the online gaming industry in the Philippines is going to take a hit. The best solution to spur economic growth as that decline continues, according to Colliers International Managing Director Richard T. Raymundo, is for President Rodrigo Duterte and his government to speed up the accreditation process in the economic zone in order to expedite business permitting.
Colliers, a commercial real estate firm in the Philippines, held its most recent property market briefing last Friday to discuss its second-quarter performance. Raymundo met with BusinessWorld following the meeting and asserts that the accreditation process managed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is cumbersome and sometimes takes too long. That process is offered to give developers and real estate locators incentives for investments and PEZA is the body that usually approves an endorsement. However, the final decision lies with the Office of the President.
According to Raymundo, Metro Manila is looking at around 700,000 square meters (7.5 million square feet) of new office space this year. Of that, 225,000 (2.42 million SF) is PEZA-compliant and, of this amount, 163,000 (1.75 million SF) is pre-leased. The result is just 62,000 square meters (667,000 SF) of PEZA-approved space. Raymundo asserts, “[It’s not enough], so we need more buildings which are completing this year to be PEZA-accredited. That’s how they can help because there is demand. It is still growing.”
With China’s crackdown on gambling and pressure on the Philippines, the Philippine Online Gaming Operator (POGO) sector is going to suffer. That country’s government is concerned about a plan to put most POGOs into “self-contained” hubs, which it says violates the rights of its nationals working in the Philippines.
Raymundo understands that the POGO industry is vital to growth in the country and asserts that it accounts for about 30%-35% of the office market. However, with attrition to pick up, accreditation processing at a faster pace will allow other companies to take over that office space and fuel more growth.