January 28, 2018
Wilma T. Eisma speaks about the growing maritime business in Subic during a Hanjin ship completion ceremony last week. The Korean firm has invested $2.3 billion in its Subic shipyard operation.
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is optimistic of sustained investment growth in the Subic Bay Freeport this year following a record P2.54 billion in total fresh commitments generated here in 2017.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, in an upbeat tone last week, said the Subic agency expects investment projects in 2018 would top the record last year when Subic was hailed by the London-based International Finance Magazine as the fastest-growing free-trade zone in Asia.
“We recorded a total of 176 new investment proposals and 63 expansion projects proposed by existing investor-companies last year, but we anticipate more investments this year because we’re opening new areas for development,” Eisma said.
“At the same time, we’re putting more value into existing facilities so that we could attract more takers,” she added.
Data from the SBMA Business and Investment Group (SBMA-BIG) indicated the Subic agency processed 56 new investment projects in the first quarter of 2017, 27 in the second quarter, 49 in the third and 44 in the last quarter to generate a total of P1,448,358,341 in committed investments last year.
The new investment commitments made last year also yielded a projected employment total of 2,667.
Meanwhile, the 63 expansion projects sealed last year delivered a total of P1,088,313,616 in new investments and 821 additional jobs.
Investment generation in Subic last year could also be gauged by the number of business permits processed by the SBMA: A total of 1,221 certificates of registration and certificates of registration and tax exemption, compared to a target of 806 certificates.
These permits authorized holders to operate as business entities inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Eisma pointed out the SBMA-BIG reported actual revenue generation at P1.23 billion as of November 2017. This was P353 million more than the target of P913 million for last year.
“Compared to the actual revenue of P1.15 billion in 2016, the P1.23 billion that SBMA-BIG earned last year was higher by P83.2 million or 7.23 percent,” Eisma added.
The agency should have recorded much bigger investment commitments and projected employment had the Dynamic Konstruk project at the Redondo Peninsula pushed through, she said.
“That alone would have brought in P40 billion in investments and 50,000 new jobs, but we revoked the lease and development agreement after the project proponent failed to meet its obligations,” Eisma said.
Still, SBMA will open up the Redondo Peninsula for further development this year upon the completion of a new master plan for the area.
Eisma said they have identified 3,000 hectares at the peninsula that would be ideal for port operations, fuel storage, wind- and solar-energy generation, as well as industrial-estate development.
“We’re also seeking to invest in new road networks to increase the value of idle land and facilities within the free port and to move away from the ‘as-is-where-is’ policy that leaves investors to develop the area they were leasing,” Eisma said.
She added the SBMA is also looking into a proposal to extend the validity of business registration here from one to three years to promote customer satisfaction, improve business operations and attract more investments.
The Subic Bay Freeport is now home to more than 1,500 investor-companies with more than $11 billion in total cumulative investments and employing a total work force of more than 124,000 employees.
(c) Henry Empeño