President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has approved the proposed five-year extension of an automotive incentives program currently participated in by two manufacturers, according to the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC).

The extension of the six-year Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program will “continue to provide incentives and support for manufacturers that meet specific requirements in terms of investment, production, and technology development,” the PSAC said in a statement on Friday.

The PSAC, a group composed of leaders of private companies involved in the infrastructure sector, made the announcement after a meeting with Mr. Marcos on Thursday.

“CARS will also continue to provide significant employment opportunities as well as the foundation for the future development of the economy,” the group said.

The P27-billion CARS program, which was introduced through a 2015 executive order (EO), gave manufacturers a six-year period to produce 200,000 units for each of the enrolled car types in order to avail of incentives.

Only Toyota and Mitsubishi joined the program. Toyota produces the Vios compact car while Mitsubishi produces the Mirage model. Toyota has until 2024 to meet its commitments while Mitsubishi’s deadline is 2023.

It was implemented to make the Philippines at par with regional rivals and lift its shrinking car output, which was the lowest in Southeast Asia months before the EO was issued.

“CARS has demonstrated its effectiveness and value as a high-end manufacturing operation which has greatly helped in the creation of jobs, transfer technology, and boost global competitiveness by supporting domestic auto manufacturing and stimulating investment,” the PSAC said.

While new vehicles sales rose by 21.8% in April, a month-on-month decline of 16.9% was recorded in the same month — the first since the 20.8% drop seen in January.

The auto sector was hit hard by the pandemic, which forced the government to impose import safeguards on passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in 2021.

Meanwhile, the PSAC lobbied for the creation of a Motorcycle Micro Business Program through a presidential order to empower “nanopreneurs” in the motorcycle industry.

The program aims to create over two million jobs for riders and “provide access to transform their livelihoods, becoming platform self-entrepreneurs,” the group said.

“While waiting for the passage of the law, PSAC is seeking a nationwide expansion via Executive Order.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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