08 February 2010

SBMA cites investor-friendly policies behind 2009 growth

The investor-friendly environment promoted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has led to healthy business in this free port, and allowed companies here not only to survive the economic slowdown last year but also to post actual growth.

“This is the reason why Subic managed to stay afloat despite the recession,” SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said. “Together with the business community, we’ve been working hard at promoting good business by coming up with sound policies.”

Arreza said the SBMA’s investor-friendly policies “brought us to where the Freeport stands now,” adding that the agency posted a record seaport revenue of P472.85 million last year despite the recession, and approved 25 expansion projects by various investors that are worth a total of $23.7 million.

The SBMA official cited the connection between growth and sound guidelines during the Locators Congress held recently at the Global Terminals and Development, Inc. office here. The congress, which was organized by the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (SBFCCI) as an annual event, focused on business issues and concerns of business locators here.

Arreza said that aside from putting out investor-friendly policies, the SBMA also stressed transparency in doing business with everyone. “This makes every transaction easy and on time,” he added.

In keeping with the spirit of the congress, Arreza disclosed that the SBMA will now spread development efforts to communities in Olongapo, Zambales and Bataan, which are outside the controlled or fenced-in portion of the Subic Bay Freeport.

Arreza earlier explained that the SBMA’s expansion program was meant to address the limited commercial and industrial space in Subic’s controlled area, wherein a huge environmental preserve is located, as well as to create livelihood opportunities that would directly impact on the neighboring communities.

“We will now focus on developing significant infrastructure facilities in those areas in order to generate more investments outside the traditional boundaries of the Freeport,” Arreza said.

“But we shall need funds to build public infrastructure projects that will convince more investors to pour their money into the Subic Bay area,” he said.

At the same time, Arreza clarified concerns about the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA), the Kalaklan bridge construction, and the Ayala Land project.

in the case of the SBIA, Arreza disclosed that the SBMA is still evaluating its viability.

“There is no rush to close the airport,” he told Subic locators. “Actually, we are still marketing the airport and looking for other alternatives to make it useful.”

Arreza also assured the chamber that the 30 locators to be affected by the construction here of an Ayala Land mall would be given options to either relocate their businesses inside the mall, or move into a commercial building to be built nearby.

Ayala Land is expected to start construction of the mall in April this year, and to finish in 2012.

Arreza also briefed locators on the scheduled closure of the Kalaklan bridge starting March 1, to pave the way for the construction of a P200-million new bridge and security plaza. Arreza earlier explained that the construction project would have to go on as scheduled, lest local businesses would lose out during both the peak tourism season this Christmas and in summer next year. (SBMA Corporate Communications)