Ilocos holds investment summit
by Cristina Arzadon
Laoag City (13 October) -- Secretary Arthur Yap, super region development czar, no less has started pitching for Ilocos Norte as fit to accommodate big investments as indicated by the on-going investment summit among the country’s top business leaders at the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel.
Yap, also the director-general of the Presidential Management Staff, said Ilocos Norte would not put together an investment summit if local leaders are not up to the commitments that would be required by private investments.
“They are ready. The investment forum is very indicative (that Ilocos Norte is geared up for investment). When you invite investments, infrastructure has to be there, investment-friendly policies should be there. Big requirements will be asked of them,” Yap said on Thursday (yesterday) during a media briefing after his speech before business leaders.
For his part, Ilocos Norte Gov. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. said it took almost a decade from his first term as governor in 1998 to develop the province as an investment haven.
During that period, Marcos started tapping Manila businessmen including the group of mall magnate Henry Sy to open an SM chain in the province.
The Sys at that time found the province’s power capacity as insufficient to sustain a chain of malls.
“It was pointed out that for large scale enterprises (to come in), we would need to develop further the support infrastructure such as power, transport, communication, financing and peace and order. We have strived to do all that,” Marcos said.
Ilocos Norte had since took the lead in producing a cheap and renewable source of energy with the operation of Asia’s wind power plant in the northern town of Bangui last year.
“Because of this progress, we feel that we are now ready to entertain potential investors and offer you to come and be part of our future,” the governor said in his address before business leaders.
The governor outlined five key areas of investment namely: agriculture, tourism, mining, transportation and social enterprise.
Marcos sat down briefly with Yap after the summit ceremonies where the two discussed how Ilocos Norte could match the national government’s development plan.
The governor said that Ilocos Norte would push other projects on top of power development that Pres. Arroyo has outlined in her super regions plan.
“We are looking at Ilocos Norte being a logistical center because we have a port (Currimao port) which can be used as transshipment for the other ports like Singapore and Hongkong,” he said.
According to Yap, the Currimao port will receive an infrastructure support of close to P100 million while the Laoag international airport will get a funding of P831 million from the President’s Medium Term Philippine Investment Program (MTPIP).
The three-day summit, which opened on Thursday, gathered the country’s major industry players in telecommunications, transport, banking, financing and development sector including embassy representatives of the United States, Germany, China and Taiwan.
Yap earlier made a site visit of two wind power plants, the existing 25-megawatt Northwind Bangui wind farm and the proposed North Luzon wind power project in Burgos town.
The wind farms are included in Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo’s North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle (NLAQ) project as outlined in her five super regions development plan.
Of the P56.8 billion budget allocated for North Luzon, more than P8 billion were set aside for the 46-megawatt Burgos wind farm that the Philippine National Oil Company will start implementing next year.
An additional P780 million were earmarked for the second phase of the Bangui Bay wind farm project under the Department of Energy. (PIA) [top]