Home » Customs & Trade » Subic Bay, Clark locators call for policy continuity, seamless transition

SUBIC Bay and Clark locators are asking the next administration to sustain programs set in place by the Arroyo regime to ensure the two freeport zones remain investment magnets.

At last week’s “Retrospective Forum on the Subic-Clark Corridor: Milestones and Prospects” at the Holiday Inn in Clark organized by the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD) and managed by PortCalls, private sector representatives cited the gains made at the freeports, noting that a turnaround in policies will only serve to sour investor interest.

“All policies laid out by the current administration… only need to be continued or enhanced,” said Dennis Wright, president and chief executive of Peregrine Development. Peregrine operates the Global Gateway Logistics City, a 176-hectare master planned mixed use logistics and business center in Clark.

“I, as well as my co-locators in both Subic and Clark, am hoping that whoever is elected will continue everything that was put into place for business to thrive and continue progress,” Wright added.

The Philippines will hold national elections on May 10.

At the same forum, the public and the private sectors presented to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a “Declaration of Cooperation between the Public and Private Sectors of Subic and Clark” that pledges to develop the Subic-Clark corridor into a world-class logistics hub.

Among signatories were the heads of the Department of Trade and Industry, SCAD, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Clark Development Corporation (CDC), North Luzon Railways Corporation, Clark International Airport Corporation, Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA) and the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce.

Aside from the smooth transition of power, the Subic and Clark locators are asking government to provide long-term incentives; fully implement Republic Act 9400 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992; put in place infrastructure particularly those that will immediately address the anticipated power shortage in Luzon by 2012-2013; and continuously improve the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.

The SBMA, CDC and the Bases Conversion and BCDA echoed the locators’ sentiment.

“There should be seamless transition, continuation and increase in advocacy of the Arroyo administration from the next administration,” SBMA administrator Armand Arreza said in a panel discussion during the forum.

“There should be no or minimum disruptions at both freeports to ensure the smooth flow of investments,” Arreza said.

Infrastructure boost

Both Clark and Subic are embarking on infrastructure projects that will aid the development of businesses in the zone.

Recently, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac expressway (SCTEx) was opened. The P34.1-billion SCTEx links Clark airport to the Subic seaport, cutting travel time to 45 minutes from the previous one hour and 30 minutes.

In Subic, a 300-megawatt clean coal-fired power plant is being constructed set to go online this year. A 50-megawatt wind power plant is also in the pipeline.

In Clark, authorities will soon sign a proposal from a private firm to develop a 20 to 40 megawatt solar-powered plant.

Other developments in the pipeline include:

  • The North Rail Project (Phase 1, Section 1) – The 82.12km, double-track railway system project will provide a fast and reliable mass transit system. It runs parallel to the North Luzon Expressway, Northrail is divided into two sections: Caloocan City to Malolos in Bulacan, and Malolos to Clark.
  • Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway – the 88.58km expressway will be connected to SCTEx in La Paz, Tarlac and runs parallel to the McArthur Highway.
  • Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Aurora-Dingalan Port Road – the 12-.65km road provides continuous access tom the Subic-Clark Logistics hub to the Dingalan port in Aurora Province.

Economic growth

During the forum, it was also noted that before the Arroyo administration came to power, there was no integrated development plan for Subic and Clark. But by mid-2001, President Arroyo directed the BCDA, SBMA and CDC to form an alliance – now known as SCAD – to pursue joint projects for the two Freeport zones.

Since then, improvements in key economic figures have been registered.

From 2001 to 2009, passenger flights at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark surged 91%, pushing passenger traffic to increase by 14,240%. Cargo flights soared 136% from 2002-2009 with volume jumping 135% for the same period.

From 2001 to 2009, Subic containerized cargo throughput increased 24% and non-containerized cargo by 58%.

Total investments jumped 67% from 2000 to 2009 while employment grew 179% to 140,000 from only 50,000 from 1994 to 2000.

Subic and Clark exports rose 21% from 2001 to 2009 to $2 billion.

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