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Manila Property Market Suffers, As BPOs Hold Back Expansion Plans

Property developers in the Philippines capital of Manila are wondering how to reduce their inventory of office space, with the government’s moratorium on economic zones holding back the expansion of BPO operations.

The realtors could lease out barely 199,000 square meters of office face in the first half of this year, a 45% decrease compared to the same period last year.

With BPO adopting a “wait-and-see” stance, the property developers are turning to traditional businesses in sectors such as healthcare, and food and beverages.

Most of the BPO activity in the Philippines involves call centers, with outsourced jobs including computer programming, medical transcription, animation, and cartoon production.

Thanks to the proliferation of chatbots and advancing technology, the call center industry is not generating as many jobs as it did in the past. As if to add salt to its wounds, the Philippines government has now started pushing BPOs to expand beyond Metro Manila.

The BPOs are refusing to move out, saying the other provinces in the country lack infrastructure and skilled labor. They are, however, willing to expand operations in the free economic zones of Manila, where they are provided with numerous incentives, such as tax perks.

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The BPO industry in the Philippines grew 5.1% in 2018 instead of the projected 8 percent, according to the Contact Centre Association of the Philippines (CCAP).

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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