Businessman Peter Wallace is giving the economic team credit for allowing business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to let their employees continue with work-from-home setups beyond COVID-19 lockdowns.
The founder of the Wallace Business Forum (WBC) said it was the proper thing to do, rather than force BPO workers to show up in their offices just so companies can keep enjoying tax incentives from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
“A government mired in the past will only achieve a loss of great potential for growth for the country in the different future that is evolving. How businesses operate can no longer be determined by laws that were created in pre-COVID, pre-metaverse days. The laws must be changed with considerable urgency,” Wallace wrote in his Inquirer column.
Failure to budge would have meant losing BPO players to other nations which have more relaxed protocols for tax perks.
“IT-business process management (BPM) has turned out to be a goldmine for us. As a major economic pillar of the economy, it is an industry we must encourage to come here and to stay here. The industry has made it clear, it requires flexibility in work arrangements if it’s to stay,” he added, noting the sector’s promise of adding 1 million new jobs for Filipinos for the next six years.
“Today, we are threatened not only by the long-known competitor, India, but the United States, Brazil, and Malaysia are also changing their laws to woo the IT-BPM industry. The Indian government is already adjusting its policies and tax breaks to support BPOs working from home. They even created a special program encouraging remote work by providing incentives to workers to return to their hometowns,” Wallace said.
“The future of work is about flexibility, and it will be location and time — independent and hybrid in work setup,” he added. “It was of great credit to the FIRB that they recognized this.”
His suggestion: extend the same flexibility to other industries so both workers and employers are happy.
Other business leaders are resistant to such a change, claiming it dampens consumer spending if workers stay home.