Investments registered by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), operator of the country’s premier freeport zone Subic Freeport, dropped by almost half in 2017 to P3.63 billion from P6.7 1billion in 2016.
Data showed that new committed investments in 2017 in Subic Freeport reached only P2.54 billion or 60 percent lower than that P6.35 billion that came in 2016 despite the fact that more new projects were approved last year at 239 all as against only 144 in 2016.
The data further showed there were more expansion projects by existing Subic Freeport locators in 2017 in 2017, but not enough to turn the negative total inflows. There were 63 expansion projects committed in 2017 with combined investments of P1.09 billion or 203 percent higher compared to 37 expansion projects with combined investments of P0.36 million in 2016.
In terms of jobs generation, the new investment commitments are expected to generate 3,488 jobs once these projects are completed. The jobs figure was 9.82 percent lower than the 3,868 jobs in 2016.
The expansion projects, given their higher number, are also expected to generate 821 jobs or 57 percent higher than the 521 in 2016.
Despite the sharp drop in new investments, the Freeport reported a modest growth in revenues to P3.082 billion in 2017 or 4 percent more than the P2.954 billion in 2016 as most revenue sources posted positive. Leases contributed the biggest source of income at P1.527 billion or 6 percent more than the P1.446 billion in 2016 followed by port services with P961 million.
The freeport was able to post a commendable 38 percent growth in exports to $2.332 billion in 2017 from $1.69 billion in 2016. Imports also increased but at slower pace of 11 percent to $1.771 billion from $1.6 billion in 2016.
As of 2017, Subic Freeport employs a total of 128,200 workers or 14 percent higher than the 112,600 workers in 2016. The services sector employs the most with 70,650 followed by the shipbuilding and marine related services with 33,593. The manufacturing sector in the freeport also employs 15,303 and construction with 8,621 workers.
(c) Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat