P-Noy considering nuclear energy to solve Mindanao’s power shortage

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 September)—President Benigno Aquino III is seriously studying the proposal of Mindanao businessmen to tap nuclear energy in solving the impending power supply problems in Mindanao, Board of Investments (BOI) Governor Geronimo Santa Ana said Friday.

“I think the President is seriously considering tapping nuclear energy,” Santa Ana told reporters after the orientation on the government’s 2010 investment priority plans at the Apo View Hotel, “Mas mura, may (It’s cheaper, there are) risks, but it’s more stable and a lot cleaner.”

Santa Ana was in Davao for the second to the last leg of the road show that aimed to promote the incentives offered by the government under the Investment Priorities Plan 2010 to spur domestic investments in the country.

He said the government has been made aware of the critical power situation in Mindanao and has been trying to find ways to avert an impending shortage.

Vicente Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC), had earlier floated the idea of tapping nuclear power to solve the impending power shortage in Mindanao and had included it in the shortlist that businessmen presented to the President during the brief audience at the Marco Polo during his recent visit.

Santa Ana said that under the 2010 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), investments in renewable energy have been in the government’s mandatory list of industries that are given government tax incentives.

Energy-related activities, which cover exploration, production, development and utilization of energy resources such as mineral, hydrocarbon and geothermal and renewable energy, have also been identified in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s preferred list of investments under the IPP.

But in Davao City, exporters are worried that the lack of additional generating capacities might hamper companies from going full blast in their operations and expansion programs.

Jason Magnaye, chair of the Davao City Investment Promotion Center, pointed out that 51 per cent of the power demand in Mindanao comes from Southern Mindanao which continues to source out as much as 80 per cent of its power needs from the north.

“This makes the situation very precarious, especially at times when there are sabotaging of power transmission lines,” he said.

Bonifacio Tan, former chair of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that government could help Mindanao businessmen tide over the crisis if it can offer duty- and tax-free incentives in the importation of power generators.

Santa Ana said that the last time there was a power crisis in Mindanao, the government considered giving tax incentives in the importation of power generators and “speeding up the processing of papers to make it easy for businessmen to import.”

The IPP road show was geared towards attracting domestic investments by making the incentives known to investors outside of Metro Manila.

Santa Ana said that aside from Davao the IPP road show has already gone to Pangasinan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Bacolod and Naga. It will go next to Tagaytay.

“During the global recession, which dried up foreign capital, we relied on domestic investments to keep the economy going. Now, we encourage local businesses to put in their domestic capital in areas where they can help fuel the economy,” he said.

The official said that to encourage investments, government may increase the amount of incentives in lesser developed areas in the countryside to encourage more businesses to locate.

“While we offer Metro Manila companies four years of tax incentives, we may increase it to six years when it comes to the region to encourage more locators,” he said.

Along with the road show, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) opened a one-stop-shop to encourage small enterprises to register their businesses.

Santa Ana said a number of small companies producing banana chips for export registered in the one-day road show. (Germelina Lacorte/Mindanews)

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