Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Subic CEO urge govt to put up funds for ecozones

Government urged to put up P2-billion fund to develop ecozones

The government must put up a P2-billion fund to encourage more investments in the country through the development of economic zones, a ranking official said yesterday.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza said that the government must put up more economic zones around Subic Bay Freeport and Clark Freeport.

The suggestion was made during a meeting with the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, and representatives of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

Gordon, who has filed Senate Bill 0143, or the “3-3-1 Luzon Global Corridor Act of 2009”, has earlier proposed to develop other special economic zones in Luzon to optimize the three airports in Manila, Subic, and Clark, the three seaports in Manila, Subic and Mariveles, and the highway and railway connecting these major ports.”

The bill also seeks to strengthen the power of the SBMA and CDC, giving them the mandate to develop nearby areas into new economic zones. To speed up the process, Arreza then proposed the creation of a fund to develop new zones.

“If we wanted for Subic and Clark to reach the level of Singapore, we will need investments the equivalent of either seven Texas Instruments or four Hanjins a year. But to start all these, we need to build roads first,” Arreza said.

Arreza recalled that when SBMA and CDC were formed, the primary intention was to create jobs for those affected by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 and the pullout of the US military from Subic and Clark in 1992.

However, he pointed out that the business model that supports the growth of Subic and Clark “to a certain level, is very limited, as they rely primarily on leases or income from land, which is a finite resource.”

Arreza noted that to carry out their new mandate of developing nearby communities, Subic and Clark would require a tremendous amount of annual investments in the next 10 years to fund various public infrastructures, such as roads, water and sewerage systems, as well as technical schools that would help reduce skills mismatch.

He also stressed that an eco-metric study made by the SBMA showed that Vietnam and China invested anywhere between seven and eight percent of their annual gross domestic product in infrastructure to boost their edge as investment sites.

In contrast, the Philippines spends only three percent of its GDP for the same purpose, Arreza added. By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio (The Philippine Star)

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