Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, June 22, 2007

PGMA inaugurates Php 653-M Hanjin access road

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated Friday the Php 653-million Subic-Cawag-Balaybay road here which she said will further boost business and employment opportunities for residents and prospective investors in and around the province, the country and even the whole world.

The 16.15-kilometer access road now serves as a direct link between the proposed Zambales Industrial Park and provincial port and Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd. (HHIC), one of the world's largest ship builders and top hirer of world-class Filipino welders to work on their ship building activities.

The access road is the fulfillment of the Memorandum of Understanding entered into by and between the Department of Public Works and Highways, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and HHIC signed on Feb. 28, 2006.

In her speech keynoting the formal opening of the access road, the President said the project was funded solely through government and local government resources sourced from collections stemming from the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT).

"Php 653 million of (expanded) value added taxes went to this road," the President said, adding that 95 percent was sourced from the government through the DPWH while the remaining five percent came from the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).

"The difficult and politically unpopular steps we took to raise taxes are bearing fruit. We are now able to make significant investments in people and infrastructure," the President said.

She added that "this project will also create jobs in the surrounding communities of Subic, Zambales and Olongapo City."

The President also directed the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Anti-Smuggling Task Force (ASTF) to go after those involved in smuggling to the detriment of the Philippine port system.

"We have undertaken a strong and steady effort to curb graft and corruption through reliance on criminal justice, administrative controls and procedural reforms. We do not tolerate smuggling in Subic or anywhere else," the President said.

"So I am instructing the Customs and Anti-smuggling Task Force to crack down on individuals involved in illegal activities," she added.

She called on everyone to "make our economy more business-friendly to legitimate businessmen and unfriendly to crooked businessmen."

She said her administration is taking measures to ensure efficient private sector access to project financing, lower the cost of doing business in the country by cutting down red tape and minimizing corruption.

The government has undertaken "strong and steady efforts to curb graft and corruption through reliance on criminal justice, administrative controls and procedural reforms," the President said.

In just one year, from the time Hanjin officials met with her in Malacanang to review the structural map of the Korean shipbuilding company's structural map, construction of Hanjin's first 12 containers are underway, the President said.

"We are taking steps to make investment decisions easy. The difficult and politically unpopular steps we took to raise taxes are bearing fruits," she said.

The President pointed out that through increased taxes, the government, is now making significant investments in people and infrastructure, including billions of pesos in programs to promote human capital like education, health care services and manpower training. (PNA)

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