DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Dec) — Marawi City would have been the pilot area for a three billion peso telecommunications project in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but investors opted to make the ARMM government compound in Cotabato City as its pilot area instead due to the Marawi Siege, the Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) said.
In a press release, the ARMM-RBOI announced it approved P3.2 billion worth of investments in 2017, 53% higher than PhP 2.11 billion in 2016.
The ARMM’s top investor this year is TierOne Communications International, Inc. (Tier1), which will provide cellular services, broadband connectivity, wireless internet, and public WiFi in the five-province, two-city region.
The company said it will proceed to Marwai at the appropriate time,” in step with the government’s rehabilitation efforts in the devastated city.
Tier1 is not only the top investor this year, it is also the second highest investment project in the 27-year old ARMM, after Al Sahar Agri-Ventures, which invested PhP 3.7 billion in banana plantations in Maguindanao in 2015.
The press release said the telecoms project will create lot of potential jobs in the downstream telecoms industry “since Business Process Outsourcing or BPO remains as the country’s best job generator in 2017.”
The second top ARMM investor in 2017 is the Bangsamoro Terminal Services, Inc. which is putting up a PhP129 million port-related services project in Polloc Port, Parang, Maguindanao, providing efficient logistics support to the thriving businesses in Cotabato City and nearby municipalities in Maguindanao.
Other notable ARMM investments in 2017 are the water treatment plant and bulk water supply project (PhP 40-M) of Mactan Rock TGV Builders Corporation in Maguindanao; general cargo vessel with a capacity of 494 metric tons. providing shipping services to traders in Tawi-Tawi (PhP 33.5-M) of J. Sayang Shipping Lines, Inc.; and aquamarine cold storage and fish processing facility (PhP 32-M) of Abing Seafood Cold Storage, also in Tawi-Tawi.
A total of 1,877 jobs are expected to be created from the projects registered in 2017, ARMM-RBOI said.
In 2018, ARMM-RBOI expects to have “good investment results if the Marawi rehabilitation and reconstruction will push through starting next year because we hope to register the firms who will participate in the reconstruction,” ARMM-RBOI chair and managing head Ishak Mastura said
Mastura said these projects “will amount to billions of pesos and will certainly lift the investment profile of the ARMM.”
Mastura said agriculture-based projects are still the most in demand among investors in the region based on the investment proposals received for 2018.
“We also foresee projects related to infrastructure, energy, as well as banking and finance linked to rebuilding war-ravaged Marawi City.” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte this year approved the ARMM Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) for 2017 to 2019.
Mastura said they included in the IPP a “full list of relevant priority projects that we believe can drive socio-economic growth considering that most of the areas in the ARMM are less developed.”
“This will encourage investors to put their financial capital in the region due to the incentives they will enjoy once their companies become operational,” Mastura said.
In 2017, the RBOI together with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Hineleban Foundation started the implementation of the Brokering Business Investments in the Bangsamoro to achieve Inclusive Development and Growth (BRIDGe) Program in the ARMM funded by the Australian government (Australian Aid)-Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
The program highlights the development of the Business Sustainability Framework in the Bangsamoro (BSFB), a document that outlines recommendations to potential investors on how to initiate new business in the region.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said his administration will continue to advocate and promote investments in 2018 despite issues on peace and security “by providing an environment that is conducive for business.” (MindaNews)