Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, February 23, 2008

SBMA eyes $2.5-B investments in 3 yrs

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – After breaching its $5-billion investment target last year, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has increased its goal to $7.5 billion, or $2.5 billion more in fresh investments within the next three years.

SBMA administrator and chief executive officer Armand Arreza made this announcement the Friday as he revealed a $250-million investment commitment in Subic by Jafza International FZE, the global economic zone operations arm of Economic Zones World, which is owned by the government of Dubai.

"Now that we have exceeded our original target of $5 billion when Subic investments reached $5.4 billion in 2007, we have adjusted our 2010 goal to $7.5 billion," he said.

At the same time, Arreza expressed confidence the SBMA would be able to corner the additional $2.5 billion investments within three years due to the investor-friendly policies the agency has put in place over the past two years.

He said these include streamlining investment processing by standardizing terms and reducing processing period; organizing the SBMA business group into industry-focused units; facilitating the automatic renewal of certificates of registration and tax exemption for locators; and streamlining port processing procedures.

Moreover, the SBMA has reduced power rates, stabilized water charges, re-established fiber optic link to Subic, reaffirmed value-added tax exemption of locators and cracked down on smuggling.

"With all these measures, the SBMA has succeeded in re-establishing Subic as a viable and attractive investment destination in the last two years," Arreza said.

The SBMA official also said the scheduled opening of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) in March and President Arroyo’s Executive Order 675, which extends Subic’s tax and duty-free regime to surrounding communities, "will bring in bigger investment opportunities for Subic and the rest of Central Luzon."

"These will be our two enablers – the tools that would facilitate the entry of more investments," Arreza said.

The SCTEX project, he explained, will hasten the flow of goods and manpower within the Subic-Clark growth corridor, while EO 675 will build a strong economic base in areas around the two free ports.

The entry of Jafza International, Arreza also said, is proof that Subic is on its way to realizing its potential as a logistics and service hub in Southeast Asia.

Under a memorandum of agreement signed with Jafza CEO Salma Hareb, the Dubai-based company will invest in the development of the Subic airport, Boton wharf, Subic Techno Park and the Crown Peak hotel complex at Cubi Point.

The Jafza project will involve the master-planning and development of mixed-use properties, including port operations, logistics, and industrial and commercial components.

Thereafter, the company will also be responsible for operations, sales, leasing, marketing, and property and asset management for the areas covered by the project.

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