03 August 2009

Subic, Clark to harmonize business permit systems

The neighboring free ports of Subic and Clark will soon be utilizing a unified business permit system designed to further harmonize their business operations and facilitate the entry of more investments in the two economic zones.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza said the two free ports will start implementing the Subic-Clark Business Permit System in September this year.

The implementation of the harmonized system, Arreza said, was contained in a memorandum of agreement signed on July 22 by the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC), Clark Development Corp. (CDC), Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), and the SBMA.

The agreement also called for, among others, a unified system for the issuance of Certificate of Registration and Tax Exemption (CRTE), Permit to Operate (PTO), and other business permits, in compliance with RA 9485, otherwise known as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.

Arreza said the harmonized Subic-Clark business system is part of a strategic program to propel the Philippine economy toward heightened global participation.

“It’s the most logical recourse — to complement each other and play on each other’s strengths, rather than remain as islands of autonomy and inefficiency,” he said.

“By complementing each other, Subic and Clark will have the best chances of ever becoming the two most progressive investment sites in the Philippines, as well as globally-competitive logistics and service hubs that President Arroyo has envisioned,” Arreza added.

Harmonized business operations would also enable Subic and Clark to capitalize on both their US military-built ports and newly-constructed facilities to bolster their bid for economic significance in the Asia-Pacific region, the SBMA official said.

Efforts to turn Subic and Clark into interdependent nodes of development in Central Luzon have been the focus of the SCADC, which is headed by Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan.

In August last year, the SCADC brokered the signing of an agreement and joint memorandum order between the SBMA, CDC, and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) for the harmonization of immigration, customs and quarantine (ICQ) procedures in Subic and Clark.

These documents institutionalized the National Single Windows program in the two free ports, and facilitated the implementation of Electronic Transit Admission Permit System (e-TAPS), an automated cargo clearance and releasing facility.

Last month, the SCADC also embarked on a 15-day economic mission to the United States to promote Subic and Clark as twin logistics hubs.

Arreza said the mission resulted in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the SCADC, SBMA, CIAC, and the Southern California Logistics Airport Authority (SCLAA), and the move by US-based door-to-door cargo forwarder Atlas Shippers International to make Subic its hub for North Luzon operations.

The SCADC also conducted a forum on the Subic-Clark International Logistics Hub during the U.S. mission to drumbeat developments in the two free ports and promote their potentials in catering to the needs of the Asia-Pacific region.

Arreza noted that Subic and Clark previously operated as competing economic zones that boasted of contrasting strengths — a seaport for the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and an airport for the Clark Freeport.

However, the two free ports that are now connected by the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) “have realized that their diversity could provide a common strength that will define, focus and magnify their individual capacities,” he added.

With these complementation efforts, Subic and Clark are steadily moving towards combining their assets to become catalysts of development for Central Luzon and other parts of the country, Arreza said. (SBMA Corporate Communications)