Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

$3B investments seen by extending Subic's tax-free perks to nearby areas

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - Extending Subic Bay Freeport’s tax-free privileges to its adjacent communities is expected to bring in an additional $3-billion worth of investments to the area.

This was announced by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Tuesday.

However, the body is still awaiting the implementing rules and regulations of Executive Order 675.

Signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007, the order expanded the Freeport’s tax and duty-free privileges beyond the fenced-in area of the Freeport.

Under the EO, areas covered by the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone (SSEFPZ) included Olongapo City, Subic town in Zambales, and Morong and Hermosa towns in Bataan.

Previously, the Bases Conversion and Development Act — also known as Republic Act 7227 — limited such privileges within the zone’s fenced area.

“We expect a jump in investments this year, but most of these will no longer be inside the fenced-in area of the Subic Freeport," Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Armand Arreza said.

“We will be moving most of the investments we can generate this year to the new frontiers," he added.

Among the investments expected to pour in this year include resort projects initiated by Korean companies as well as the re-development project of Ayala Land Inc. in the Subic Freeport and Olongapo City.

In the meantime, an Olongapo City-based businessman who refused to be identified said that companies located adjacent to Subic Bay has been denied perks “for a long time for unknown reasons."

“Subic Bay could have been bigger, better and may have contributed more to national development if we had not been excluded," a businessman in Olongapo City said.

This sentiment was echoed by Arreza.

“We have been receiving concerns from Olongapo businessmen that they don’t enjoy the same privileges given to foreign investors," Arreza said. “Now, this program will give them the same opportunity, as long as they invest."

Besides these perks, the SBMA may also grant personal incentives like tax-free dividends, a scheme that is popular in the United States. - RJAB Jr./GMANews.TV

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