BALANGA City, Bataan– More than 300 businessmen all over Bataan on Thursday joined a forum on the investment prospects in Bataan, particularly in the growing City of Balanga and the Freeport Area of Bataan or FAB.
The forum coincided with the general membership meeting and induction of new set of officers of the Bataan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (BACCII) with its new president. Vic Quezon.
Balanga City Mayor Jose Enrique Garcia III discussed various investment potentials and on-going projects to attract more investments in the 11-year old city.
He thanked businessmen for helping Balanga attain the top post in Central Luzon in the tax collection record. “The business climate in Balanga is getting much, much better and that we assure you,” the mayor told the big crowd.
Garcia announced the opening of the Bank of Commerce joining scores of banks in Balanga. He said that of the P13-billion deposit base in Bataan, P7 billion are in Balanga. But he noted that most investors in Bataan are not from the province.
“Sana ma-encourage ang mga kababayan natin to invest here especially in tourism-related projects,” the mayor said. He asked more planning sessions and exploratory talks with businessmen.
Garcia also urged investors to create more businesses in Bataan to lessen the number of Overseas Filipino Workers. He said that there are 30,000 OFWs in Bataan with 10,000 coming from Balanga.
“I challenge BACCII and other businessmen to help our OFWs be given enough job opportunities in the province,” Mayor Garcia said.
The mayor’s brother, Rep. Albert Garcia of Bataan’s Second District, discussed the overview on economic outlook amidst instability in the global environment. The congressman is chair of the House Committee on Commerce and Industry and the principal author of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan.
He challenged local businessmen to invest in projects that will have great impact to Bataan. “Business not politics makes the world go round,” the congressman said. He announced that Bataan will have the cheapest power rate as promised by GN Power, a Chinese firm undergoing construction in Mariveles.
Lawyer Deogracia Custodio, administrator of FAB, said that when they took over the former Bataan Economic Zone on June 29, 2010, there were 43 active locators with about 13,000 workers.
He announced that there are 14 new locators with four already in operation with about 3,000 additional jobs to be generated within the year. The firms, mostly Filipino-owned, are into duty free shop, tires, bicycles, candles, plastics and Petron Gas Station.
“May nililigawan pa kaming lima hanggang sampung kumpanya na inaashan namin na mag-ooperate sa FAB within the year,” Custodio said.
The lawyer said FAB has more incentives for investors than other Freeport in the country. What incentives the Philippine Economic Zzone Authority and the Board of Investment offer are combined in the Bataan Freeport with other additional incentives, Custodio said.