Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, December 28, 2006

5-year shipping plan in the works

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has created a committee that will formulate a comprehensive five-year development plan for the ship building sector.

Mrs. Arroyo signed Executive Order 588 creating the ad hoc committee that will be headed by the Maritime Industry Authority.

“The accelerated and sustained development of the ship building and ship repair sector requires the joint and active collaboration between the government and the private sector as shown by even the most developed countries in the world,” the President said.

Members of the committee include representatives of the National Economic Development Authority; the departments of finance, justice, trade, labor, public works, and environment; the Philippine Economic Zone Authority; the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and the Coast Guard.

The President gave the committee 60 days to submit its program for the ship building and repair sector, which received a big boost with the move of Korea’s Hanjin to build the world’s fourth largest shipyard in Subic.

Mrs. Arroyo said that the Hanjin Shipbuilding Facility can generate $3.6 billion in annual sales.

Mrs. Arroyo said if the full capacity of the shipyard is maximized, a total of 60 ships can be constructed worth $60 million each on a year to year basis.

A $40-million training center for shipyard workers was also opened by the Korean firm, which is considered to be one of the world’s largest shipbuilding company.

Construction of the 2.3 million sq m shipyard began in March after Korea’s Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. signed a lease agreement with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

According to the President, the $1-billion investment of Hanjin has made Korea the biggest source of single foreign direct investment this year.

“We are doing our best to create the most conducive environment for investments, and this is a concrete evidence that the investment climate in the country is good,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

The French shipping firm CMA-CGM, which operates container ships in Asia, the Trans-Atlantic, Australia and New Zealand, was the first to order four vessels from Hanjin for next year.

CMA-CGM senior vice president Kevork Hekimian attended the site inspection recently to reaffirm to the President and to Hanjin officials the pre-order which would translate to an estimated sales of $2.4 million.

President Arroyo said some 2,400 Filipinos were employed by Hanjin for the dry-dock construction, and the number would reach 30,000 in the next five years.

For his part, SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga reported that Hanjin already took care of some 196 families of Barangay Cawag who had to be relocated since the company began its clearing operations to prepare the shipyard.

“The families received checks as compensation for their relocation and payment for their houses. The residents were also given a better and more permanent site for relocation near the ship facility,” Salonga said.

Hanjin also released a P2.7 million check for the construction of a public school, church and other public facilities for the relocated residents.
By Joyce Pangco Pañares - Manila Standard Today


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