ARMM okays P390-M new investments

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/02 October)—The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has approved the investments of two large companies worth P390 million, an official said.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, ARMM Regional Board of Investment (RBOI) chief, said the board recently approved the investment registration of La Frutera, Inc. and Iron Blaze Petroleum, Inc.

La Frutera is engaged in banana production while Iron Blaze is an oil industry player in Malaysia.

These investments are expected to generate 500 jobs, he said in a statement.

“After careful evaluation, the board provisionally approved their registration considering the social impact of these projects in terms of employment and capital inflow to the region’s economy,” Mastura said.

He said the two companies will enjoy incentives like income tax holiday and duty free importation of capital equipment for registering with the board.

Iron Blaze is investing P90 million for the construction of an oil depot in Polloc Port in Parang town in Maguindanao, RBOI data said.

On the other hand, La Frutera, a subsidiary of Unifrutti Group of Companies, is expanding with 300 hectares of banana plantations in Pandag town, also in Maguindanao, with an investment of around P300 million, it added.

Mastura said La Frutera’s expansion is expected to produce 1.2 million boxes of banana annually in response to the rising demand of the commodity in the world market.

The current banana production of La Frutera is insufficient to meet the demand of the growing markets in China, Japan and the Middle East, he added.

Ed Bullecer, a representative of Unifrutti, said in the statement that as investor, they play important roles in the communities “by working with the culture and getting involved in mitigating conflicts to sustain peace.”

“[Our expansion would have] a positive effect in the investment climate of the ARMM,” he said.

Mastura said the administration of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman is continuously seeking for investors in the agriculture sector with the region’s vast and rich agricultural lands.
Late last year, Delinanas Development Corp., a subsidiary of Del Monte Philippines, Inc., poured P569 million for a banana plantation venture in the town of Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao, targeted to employ around 900 workers.

The investment seeks the development of 550 hectares of banana farms, with the company eyeing an expansion involving another 500 hectares in the towns of South Upi, North Upi, Datu Odin Sinsuat and Parang, all in Maguindanao, the RBOI earlier reported.

ARMM also includes the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)