GARCIA BARES PLANS FOR SUBIC’S FUTURE
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – “Let the lessons of the past and the opportunities of today help us realize the vision of the New Subic that we dream of.”
This was the statement made by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia during his first State of the Freeport Address (SOFA) inside the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC).
According to Garcia, despite the recent downturn in the global economy, cumulative investments inside this Freeport has risen to 17% in 2011 from the previous year.
Freeport’s cumulative investment in 2010 is pegged at P7.167b while 2011 showed a leap of 17%, earning P8.403b in cumulative investments.
He added that committed investments here were up last year by 2% as 2011 showed $1.236b while 2010 has $1.210b. Foreign investors, Garcia said, is still the major income generators of this Freeport as Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) currently earn $1.074b compared to local investors who generate some $160m.
Employment inside this Freeport is also up by only .5% as 2011 showed a strong Freeport workforce of 88,957 while 2010 showed 88,450 workers, a difference of 507 workers who were employed in 2011.
Collections from both the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) were also up by just a smidge as 2011 showed P7.160b in collection while 2010 showed a collection of P6.680b.
Currently, Subic Bay Freeport is facing challenges such as a total cumulative loss of P7b since its creation in 1992.
Garcia reiterated that the loss incurred by the SBMA is due to the low lease rates being given to investors, lack of additional land for new and expanding companies, along with an under-utilized airport, under-utilized container terminal 1, and ageing infrastructures and equipments.
But Garcia also pointed that there is a way to alleviate the current problems the SBMA is facing. He presented a five year strategic plan that would develop tourism niche markets, focusing on the operation of this Freeport into becoming the theme park capital of the country.
He also said that part of the facelift is making this Freeport into a top sports tourism destination, a cruise ship destination, and an eco tourism activities area.
He also wants to promote maritime businesses here, DOTC’s support to attract maritime logistics players to do business in the Port of Subic, sighting the potentials of the Freeport by building container volume by matching business interests of major Luzon shippers & shipping lines, maximizing the Vale ore transshipment project, developing Subic as homebase for super yachts, and increasing repair & maintenance facilities for boats & ships.
Part of this 5-year strat plan is also the development of housing areas that includes high-end residences, middle class housing, and workers’ dormitories. -Jonas Reyes, Manila Bulletin