ARMM investments exceed P1.5-B but investors concerned about diluted BBL
COTABATO CITY, May 18, 2015. New investments continue to pour into the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the core territory of the proposed Bangsamoro political entity. The latest investment to be registered by the Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) is the 5.5 MW additional capacity for the biomass power plant of Lamsan Power Corp. based in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. The investment worth P686.74 million was approved by the RBOI last May 16, 2015 in its board meeting in this city.
Following the earlier registration of investments this year reaching a combined P863 million from an oil depot and a nickel mining project both located in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi, the total ARMM investments in the the first semester of 2015 to date has now exceeded P1.5 billion.
However, the Promotion of Investment Sustainability Organization or PISO composed of RBOI registered firms in the ARMM expressed concerns on investment sustainability in the region as a consequence of a diluted or watered down Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
PISO said that ARMM investors have the convenience of getting their permits, licenses, approvals, administrative consents and their regulatory framework from the ARMM regional government without need to go to national agencies in Manila or their regional administrative offices. So that if there will be changes to the BBL draft it should not lessen the ARMM autonomy but should seek to improve the investment friendly environment of the region by giving it more local autonomy. Considered the poorest region in the country, investment “rules of the game” in the region must be maintained or improved and not lessened, added PISO.
PISO cautioned that Congress should not lose sight of the “ease of doing business” in the region to encourage more private sector development and not to unduly burden them. For PISO the only way to have stability of investment policy for private sector development in the region is to make sure that the level of autonomy currently being experienced in the ARMM is not reduced by the proposed changes to the BBL.
Britain, a member of the International Contact Group for the peace process, recently stressed the importance of stability in investment policy, particularly in mining at the signing of a P5-million grant agreement between the British Embassy in Manila and a non-government organization, Bantay Kita, in support of the Department of Finance-led Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. British Ambassador Asif Ahmad was quoted as saying “There are projects that are frozen, where they simply said ‘we are not going to touch them until the rules are clear.’ There are others where they have already made an investment, ready to extract and suddenly the rules have changed.” He added “If it is a very expensive extractive investment where there’s downstream investment as well, you can’t suddenly change the rules because these are global industries—they will simply decide that they have got other places to invest in.”
(Source: RBOI and other news sources)