19 November 2011

SBMA links up with LGUs for ‘inclusive growth’ in Subic Bay area

Aiming to put in motion a program of shared growth in the Subic Bay area, directors of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) have devised a special project to link up with local government units and coordinate planning and implementation of development projects at neighboring communities.

SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia said the special program, dubbed as “Project Unity,” takes after the concept of “inclusive growth” which is one of the four commitments of President Benigno Aquino under his “Social Contract with the Filipino People.”

To implement this program, the SBMA board of directors recently created a special committee headed by director Bienvenido Benitez as chairman, with director Philip Camara as vice chairman. The committee also includes Garcia and directors John Philip Chua Chiaco, Ramon Diez Sesdoryo, and Alfonso Siapno.

Garcia said the project was especially designed to create synergy in development and investment projects that have large multiplier effects on local economies and the areas contiguous to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

To push for the implementation of “inclusive growth” in the area, Garcia said that Project Unity would also make use of Executive Order No. 675 as vehicle to undertake the SBMA program.

EO 675, which was issued in November 2007, extended the secured area of the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone (SSEFPZ), as defined by Proclamation No. 532 dated February 1, 1995. Subic’s secured area enjoys tax- and duty-free privileges under Republic Act 7227.

Garcia said that Project Unity aims for a synergistic approach to sub-regional development, “which is why we are planning various initiatives that are geared toward pro-active stakeholders, and among the SBMA and the concerned local government units.”

He also said that Project Unity will be especially useful in deciding environmentally-sensitive projects (ESPs) that may possibly impact on local communities, the pooling of scarce resources toward better and more efficient project development and implementation, and the coordination of investment plans in the area.

Garcia said the SBMA has already made initial discussions with LGU officials of the provinces of Zambales and Bataan to get the program going.

Recently, the project’s vice chairman, SBMA director Philip Camara, introduced the project concept to officials of the provincial government of Zambales, including Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. and Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, during a session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan at the Iba capitol.

Camara also invited the officials to a workshop to be hosted by the SBMA to provide a staging ground to flesh out the framework and concept of “inclusive growth,” as applied to sustainable sub-regional development. This will be the initial activity of Project Unity.

The workshop will be a participative and democratic process during which participants will identify possible areas or points of synergy, as far as planning and development are concerned, and hopefully arrive at a common vision for sustainable development, Camara said. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia (right) meets with Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. during a recent convention of municipal mayors in Central Luzon at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.