Record breaking 1st Quarter Investments in ARMM after Peace Deal Signed
ZAMBOANGA CITY. February 13, 2014. The Regional Board of Investments of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RBOI-ARMM) approved for registration in its meeting held in this city today a record Php 1.451 billion worth of investments in the ARMM in the 1st quarter alone of 2014.
This is a record for the ARMM since it is almost the same as the total amount of investments registered with the RBOI for the whole of 2013, which stood at Php 1.463 billion by year end. Moreover, this is the first time that investments in the ARMM reached more than Php 1 billion year on year, which may even reach Php 2 billion this year according to RBOI Chairman and Managing Head, lawyer, Ishak Mastura.
The strong surge in investments in the ARMM comes in the wake of the signing in Kuala Lumpur last month of the “Annex on Normalization” considered as the last annex to the “Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Mastura said that the new investments are mostly coming from local investors, who are registering with the RBOI because of their increased confidence in the improving peace and order situation in the area, brought about by the success of the peace negotiations. He added that “We are actually getting more inquiries about how to invest in the ARMM than is usual from foreign companies”.
There is also the contributing factor of governance reforms in the autonomous regional government and the “hands-on” investment promotion conducted by ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman himself in convincing local investors that the ARMM is serious about wooing and securing investors to expand their operations or to set-up new enterprises in the region.
However, on a cautionary note, registration with the RBOI may be a way for investors to hedge in case of uncertainty in investment policies in the region as the new autonomous Bangsamoro political entity is set-up possibly in 2015 since registration with the RBOI locks in place favorable policies towards investors that are already in the ARMM and that provides investors a predictable and familiar policy environment.
In its meeting in Zamboanga City, the agency registered three firms namely, Lamsan Power Corporation, SR Languyan Mining Corporation and ABSCOR Multi-Trading Company.
Lamsan Power Corporation based in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao registered a pioneer biomass renewable energy project costing Php 921.56 million. The power plant will utilize rice hull, corn husks, cobs and other agricultural wastage from its own cornstarch plant with a capacity of 15 megawatts (MW). It is expected that this will reduce the commercial power consumption of its cornstarch operations. This will also augment power reserves of the National Power Corporation and the Mindanao Grid since Lamsan Power will be selling 11.5 MW to these power companies.
Governor Hataman said that this power project is good news since this will help ease power shortages being experienced by some areas in Mindanao. “The power plant is a very important support facility that would encourage more businesses to flourish in the region”, Governor Hataman added.
SR Languyan Mining Corporation has invested Php 520 million for a nickel ore mining project with a capacity of 1 million metric tons (WMT) per year in Brgy. Darussalam, Languyan, Tawi-Tawi.
ABSCOR Multi-Trading Company based in Port Holland, Maluso, Basilan has put-in Php 10 million for an import and export trading business. The company transacts its business undertakings in the geographic areas of the countries of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines that are under the East ASEAN Growth Area, more commonly known as the BIMP-EAGA.
The two firms from the Sulu archipelago implies that despite the “Zamboanga siege” a few months ago and the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF disgruntlement with the peace deal with its rival MILF, investors remain resilient and some are even optimistic on business prospects in the area.
In all, about 1,122 local people are to be employed by these three firms.
On the other hand, ARMM Business Council Chairman Haron Bandila expressed worries regarding the current status of the Cotabato (Awang) Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. “Before we have four flights daily, but now we only have limited flights from Friday to Monday even if there are no repairs being done to the airport since December 2013. This has caused a big constraint on the investment environment in the region and Cotabato City”, Bandila said. Cotabato City is the provisional administrative capital of the ARMM where its line agencies hold offices. (SOURCE: RBOI)