02 March 2014

SBMA eyes P23 billion in new investments

Riding on its record-breaking accomplishments last year and the strengthening of systems in the past two years, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has set its sights on generating P23 billion in new investments in 2014.

In his State of the Freeport Address (Sofa) on Thursday, SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said the agency had set investment promotion as a major program to capitalize on the successful capacity-building efforts of his administration in the past two years.

“Let us unite to make Subic a better place,” Garcia told members of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual Sofa event, as well as officials and employees of locator-companies here, and other community stakeholders who attended the forum at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.

He added that achieving excellence must be a continuing effort for everybody in the Subic Freeport, as he unveiled the agency’s major program for 2014.

Garcia also said that aside from targeting new investments, the SBMA would focus on creating new jobs to achieve inclusive growth; aggressively pursue the use of Subic’s container port to decongest Manila ports and vehicular traffic; and attract more tourists and visitors by launching a creative tourism campaign and hosting more events.

He said the SBMA would also implement “major reorganization” to effectively achieve its strategic initiatives; simplify business processes to deliver better service to locators and residents; improve the status of agency employees by implementing the long-delayed salary increases; and intensify its good governance program.

As one means to promote the attractiveness of Subic as an investment hub, the SBMA has “substantially increased capital expenditures from P9 million in 2013 to P620 million this year,” Garcia said.

The programmed expenses, Garcia added, include more than P90 million for land and land improvements; P2.6 million in buildings and structures; P133.96 million in information-technology equipment; and P393.4 million in equipment outlay.

In his address, the SBMA head largely painted a rosy picture of increasing opportunities and potentials in this premier free port brought about by the agency’s record-breaking performance in investment generation, tourism promotion and revenue collection last year.

Starting with the agency’s investment-promotion performance, Garcia said total committed investments in Subic substantially increased by 800 percent from P3 billion in 2012 to P27 billion in 2013, thus increasing cumulative investments here by 7 percent, or from $8.8 billion in 2012 to $9.4 billion last year.

The new investment projects also created a total of 2,597 new jobs, the SBMA official said.

To further generate new investments, the SBMA acquired new additional areas for development last year, Garcia said. These consist of 10,000 hectares in San Antonio, Zambales, which is ideal for tourism and resort development; and a 650-hectare expansion area in Subic town, which was set for shipbuilding and ship repair.

In other areas, Garcia said the Subic Bay Freeport registered a 3-percent increase in tourist arrivals, a 6-percent growth in sports events, an 8.7-percent increase in ship calls, and a 56-percent increase in seaport revenue, an 8.9-percent growth in income-tax collection, a 71-percent increase in customs collection, a 0.5-percent increase in manpower, a 13-percent increase in remittances to the National Treasury, and a 12-percent increase in revenue shares given to neighboring local government units.

Garcia also pointed out that the SBMA broke several records in financial performance last year: its P2.09-billion gross revenue was the highest ever in the 21 years of the Subic Bay Freeport; a 52-percent increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was also the highest in SBMA history; a 35-percent increase in SBMA net income became the biggest in 21 years; and its P1.15-billion cash position also was the highest since 2005. (Henry EmpeƱo, Business Mirror)