Peza: Malaysian firm to build $1-B palm oil facilities in Agusan del Sur
Malaysia’s Alif Agro-Industrial Inc. is investing an initial $1 billion to put up a palm tree plantation, an oil refinery facility and a modern wharf within a 128,000-hectare area in Agusan del Sur.
Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) Director General Charito B. Plaza said this would be the largest investment yet in the local agriculture sector.
In a forum on Monday, Plaza disclosed the company has already identified three municipalities in Agusan del Sur, namely Rosario, Esperanza and Bunawan, which can provide the 128,000 hectares needed for the massive project. The target was to have this project approved at the soonest possible time.
Plaza said Peza was looking to have the proposed area declared as an economic zone, which meant that the Malaysian company would be able to tap fiscal and non-fiscal incentives such as income tax holidays, duty free importation of capital equipment, among other perks.
“We want to start this [as soon as possible]. I will be going to Malaysia in December for a three-day trip. The company would want me to see their refinery of palm oil and plantations, and to talk on how we can help one another to realize and implement the [project],” Plaza said.
Plaza added that once the proposed refinery starts commercial operations, the Philippines may be able to source more of its cooking oil requirements locally. She said the country imports some 5 million tons of cooking oil yearly.
She said the firm was planning to start laying the groundwork as soon as Peza approves its registration papers.
The first hurdle it has to face was getting the endorsement of the local governments covered by the proposal, she said.
“The roll out of the project will really depend on our side, on how fast we can approve it. But they have the [funding], coming from the Malaysian banks and financial institutions,” she said. —Amy R. Remo
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