Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SBMA pushes for expansion outside Subic

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—Because of limited space for the expansion of businesses in this free port, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is now pushing for the development of the Subic-Clark growth corridor—an area comprised of parts of the provinces of Zambales, Bataan and Pampanga.

Officials of the SBMA, the state-owned corporation that manages Subic Free Port, said in a meeting with investors here that a push toward nearby areas within the corridor is crucial for Subic and Clark to maximize their effects as growth catalysts.

“Our chances of getting more and more investments depend on the development of the areas between Subic and Clark,” SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza pointed out.

“Our concern about the limited area for industrial use in Subic can be resolved if we start developing additional industrial estates along the Subic-Clark corridor,” he added.

According to SBMA data, the agency now counts on close to 1,150 investor firms that have committed more than $5.8 billion in investment projects within the Subic special economic and free-port zone.

The zone has 55,102 hectares in land area, but is hemmed in by mountains and the sea that there is little room for expansion.

Because of limited space, Arreza said the SBMA had to turn down some investment proposals that required huge open spaces and opted for projects that involve vertical development.

Arreza also pointed out that there is so much available land along the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) that are largely idle.

“Whether you like or not, manufacturing facilities should be along expressways where the working population is, and where cheap lands are available,” Arreza said.

Arreza said these areas would be ideal for large manufacturing operations, which would also create the volume of goods needed for Subic and Clark to become globally competitive logistics centers.

Apart from the land along the SCTEx, he said SBMA’s expansion plan also considers the development of areas in the nearby communities of Olongapo City, Subic town in Zambales, and those of Morong, Hermosa and Dinalupihan in Bataan.

The SBMA expansion calls for the development of more parks and leisure resorts in the coastal barangay of Minanga in Morong, the Cawag area in Subic town, and barangay Barretto in Olongapo City, as tourist resort destinations.

Arreza asserted that if these target areas were fully developed, the SBMA could push through with its expansion program and create 150,000 additional jobs.

He stressed the need to put more exits along the expressway before any development could start, pointing out that the nearest exit from Subic Free Port is the Hermosa Exit that actually leads to the Layac junction in Dinalupihan, Bataan.

He cited Hermosa Industrial Park, which boasts of more than 400 hectares of cheap lands, could not realize much investment because of the need for a separate exit.

Arreza also clarified that new investors who would locate beyond the fenced-in area of Subic within the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone would nevertheless enjoy tax- and duty-free privileges as provided for under Executive Order 675, signed by President Arroyo on November 5, 2007.

He said the SBMA expansion plan also takes into consideration the need to further improve water and power utilities, develop housing facilities, reforestation and conservation activities, and promote indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare. Written by Henry Empeño / Business Mirror

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