SBMA approves $1 billion resort facility
The $1 billion resort complex project of M Castle Co. Ltd. of Korea with budgetary allocation for the relocation of existing informal settlers has been approved by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
SBMA administrator Armand C. Arreza told reporters Monday that they are now negotiating with the private landowners and the relocation of the informal settlers.
The project would be located on a 600-hectare area in Morong, Bataan near the Anvaya development of Ayala Land Inc.
The resort complex includes the development of a golf course, a wellness center, villas and hotel.
The developer would also manage the protected areas that would form part of the 600-hectare facility.
The M Castle would be the first major development on the expanded Freeport.
Arreza said that the communities adjacent to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone may now look forward to hosting free port-registered investments, as SBMA pushes through this year with its expansion program.
“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,” said Arreza.
“We will be moving most of the investments we can generate this year to the new frontiers,” Arreza said.
These neighboring areas are in Olongapo City, Subic town in Zambales, and Morong and Hermosa towns in Bataan,” Arreza said.
“Finally, we shall be realizing this year the SBMA vision to spread development, and directly benefit our partners in the neighboring communities,” said Arreza.
Arreza also said that under the expansion program, the SBMA is eyeing $3 billion worth of projects to start their initial development this year. Aside from M Castle, other resort developments includes the Neocove, another Korean firm, and the re-development project of Ayala Land Inc. in the Subic Freeport and Olongapo City.
Aside from attracting big-ticket projects by both foreign and Filipino companies, Arreza stressed that the SBMA expansion program would level the playing field for local entrepreneurs.
“We have been receiving concerns from Olongapo businessmen that they don’t enjoy the same privileges given to foreign investors,” Arreza noted.
“Now, this program will give them the same opportunity, as long as they invest,” he added.
He said that aside from corporate incentives like those given to any Subic Freeport-registered businesses, the SBMA may also grant personal incentives like tax-free dividends, a scheme that is popular in the United States.
He added that the Olongapo City government may endorse its City Mall project near the Subic Freeport main gate to qualify for the program.
At the same time, Arreza urged local government units in the area to extend their support to the SBMA in crafting a new master plan that would synchronize development in the Freeport and the neighboring areas.
“If we don’t come up with a new master plan, and development remains an individual effort among communities, then in about 20 years we will have a chaotic situation here,” Arreza warned.
The SBMA proposed the expansion program last year due to the limited area for industrial use in Subic . Arreza said the problem could be resolved by developing additional industrial estates along the corridor between the Subic and Clark free ports.
He added that by developing new industrial estates, the SBMA can hope to increase the Freeport 's workforce to 150,000.
The SBMA expansion also calls for the development of 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 major tourist resort destinations
Arreza said that new investors who locate beyond the fenced-in area of Subic, but still within the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone (SSEFPZ), will still enjoy tax- and duty-free privileges as provided for under Executive Order No. 675. By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT - MANILA BULLETING