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Bataan freeport investment pledges up 138,000% in 1st half

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 12:18 AM July 21, 2014

Investment commitments to the Freeport Area of Bataan in the first half of the year surged by 138,000 percent to P83.959 billion, from P60.550 million, the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (Afab) announced over the weekend.

The approval of a big-ticket power project in Mariveles town accounted for bulk of the investments, freeport officials said.

The pledges generated by Afab at end-June were already the biggest ever, given that it only attracted P60.550 million worth of projects during the same six-month period last year.

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Data earlier obtained by the Inquirer showed that Afab last month approved the application for tax perks of GNPower Ltd. Co. for its P82.284-billion, 1,200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Mariveles.

Other projects that were granted incentives in the first six months were Earth and Shore Tourism Landholdings’ P985.597-million investment to develop and operate commercial, as well as tourism estate facilities; Bio-Energy NL Inc.’s P428-million biofuel production project; Grand Innovasia Concept Corp.’s P186-million business process outsourcing (BPO) venture; and Chinese-owned FPF Corp.’s luxury handbag manufacturing facility worth P74.621 million.

Under Republic Act (RA) No. 97281, which converted the former Bataan Export Zone into a freeport area, locators may enjoy up to eight years of income tax holiday (ITH) as well as exemptions from a number of duties, taxes and fees.

“The Afab already achieved its goal to exceed last year’s pledges. [In the first half of the year,] we already surpassed the P2.1-billion worth of approved investments in 2013. This record-high number of investment pledges proves that the authority works hard to contribute to the growth of the local economy and generate more jobs for the people,” the state-run agency’s chair and administrator Deogracias G.P. Custodio said in a statement Friday.

“We assure the national government and the locals in Bataan that we will continue to bring more investments in the region and make sure that the economic growth is felt by the people,” Custodio added.

Employment at the freeport rose to 18,387 at end-June, from 16,724 at the close of 2013.

However, exports of FAB locators in the first half dropped 13.17 percent year-on-year to $169.281 million from $194.958 million last year, mainly a result of the slower delivery of raw materials, as well as finished goods, to and from the Port of Manila due to the daytime truck ban.

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