Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

C. Luzon business leaders reiterate support for expressway project

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Prominent Pampanga business leaders unanimously extended their support to the state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) in its bid to complete the P21 billion flagship project, the 93.77 kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), on target in November 2007.

The consultative meeting was attended by officials of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC), Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC), Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PamCham), Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA), and Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MACCI), BCDA president and CEO Narciso Abaya and executive vice president Isaac Puno III, among others.

PamCham president Rene Romero reaffirmed the support of the business groups, including the Advocates for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL), and expressed confidence that the expressway will be completed on time.

"The ADCL and the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry are pleased to know that BCDA is very concerned with the timely completion of the SCTEx as we have been waiting for this road infrastructure for a long time. The paramount consideration now of the various business organizations here in Central Luzon is to ensure that the road will be completed as scheduled in 2007," he said. "That is why we are extending our help in any way we can to ensure the unhampered construction of the project," he added.

CDC president Levy P. Laus commended the BCDA for having the initiative to implement the toll road. He reiterated the support of the private sector and non-government organizations in making sure that BCDA will be able to complete the SCTEx as scheduled as this will boost the economy of Subic and Clark.

Abaya acknowledged that the speedy completion of the expressway is crucial in order to boost trade, commerce and industry in the whole Central Luzon region and other nearby areas.

"The SCTEx is the catalyst for the development of the region. Once completed, it will pave the way for the development of a logistics hub that will offer world class facilities for international and local investments," Abaya explained. "That is why BCDA is committed to finishing the project on time," he said.

"The meeting provided a venue for BCDA to brief our partners in the business sector with the latest developments on the SCTEx, and helped identify and explore business opportunities that may arise once this critical road infrastructure is in place by 2007," he said.

The SCTEx will interconnect the deep-water seaport in Subic and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark to facilitate the efficient transport of goods and services. He further explicated that "in the medium- to long-term, because of the SCTEx, the envisioned Subic-Clark corridor will allow the country to leap frog into the mainstream global economy, attracting more investments, both foreign and local. Further, the significant reduction in travel time will be crucial in reducing the cost of doing business here."

The vision is shared by top economist Bernardo Villegas of the University of Asia and the Pacific during an economic briefing held at the Clark Special Economic Zone recently. Villegas talked about the potential of Central Luzon as the country's most competitive region due mainly to the construction of the 93.7-kilometer SCTEx.

He noted that the SCTEx, once in place, will transform the Central Luzon region into a "mini China" if only investors will take advantage of the opportunity and put up "globally competitive industries" such as manpower exports; transport, telecom and tourism; electronic components and semi-conductor devices; IT-enabled services; food and agribusiness; high value garments and fashion goods; high value furniture; wellness health and beauty services; logistics; retirement villages; mining; and education.

Villegas described the construction of the SCTEx as a "miracle". He explained that the toll road will form part of the critical infrastructure facilities together with the Subic seaport and the Clark airport that will propel the economic growth of the region. "With the SCTEx in place, Central Luzon can position itself as the new global gateway to the world," Villegas said.

Earlier, Abaya urged local government units along the SCTEx alignment to start re-evaluating their land use plans to take advantage of the opportunities to ensure the holistic development of the entire Central Luzon region.

This sentiment is echoed by PamCham who urged local government units to maximize the potential that they can gain once the modern toll road is in placed.
By Albert B. Lacanlale - SunStar


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