ARMM surpasses investments target in 2016 by 235%

Investment officials said the Regional Board of Investments in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has survived "difficult" year in 2016 and still surpassed its target of PHP900 million investment.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, RBOI-ARMM chair, said it recorded a 236-percent increase from its 2016 investment goal in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Mastura said the feat came despite uncertainties in 2016 brought about by huge spending of the synchronized national and local elections and the rise in armed violence by criminal and insurgent gangs in the region and some parts of Mindanao.

He said in 2016, RBOI registered total investments of PHP2.11 billion due to the approval of the PHP1.3 billion palm oil plantation development project of the Gintong Agri Corporation and the 8 megawatt diesel power plant project of Kaltimex Rural Energy Corporation worth PHP811 million.

"Since 2013 to the present, the agency has registered a sum of PHP14 billion worth of investments project in the region," Mastura said.

"ARMM has been consistent in attracting investments of at least Php1 billion per year," he added. The two companies are expected to employ 1,034 workers.

Aside from establishing a power plant in Tawi-Tawi, Kaltimex plans to expand its electrification project in Basilan and Sulu to help address the lack of power supply in the island provinces.

Mastura said the role of private sector investments is crucial to the poverty alleviation program of the government because of its interests in addressing power shortages in the off-grid areas of the region particularly its island provinces.

Without electric power, Mastura stressed, the economic conditions of the island provinces will be difficult to improve.

Mastura added that RBOI included energy-related projects in the 2017 ARMM List of Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). "Through the IPP, RBOI will be able to facilitate the granting of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to companies investing in power generating projects in ARMM," she said.

The agency has submitted to the DTI-National the ARMM list of IPP to be incorporated in the National IPP for the signing and approval of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte this January 2017.

Currently, about 50 percent of investments in the ARMM are agri-based and the bulk of it is located in Maguindanao.

This reflects also that agriculture and fishery is the region's largest economic contributor in the GRDP which is 58.5 percent (PSA 2015).

About 25 percent of the total investments in ARMM are in the energy and petroleum sectors while 15 percent is in mining and quarrying industry. The remaining 10 percent is combined investments in housing, woodworks and trading industries.

ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman said he is optimistic that with President Duterte, a Mindanaon, he would give more focus on the peace and development of the region, so more investors will come and invest in the ARMM.

"We already have laid down the grounds for good governance and other interventions needed such as infrastructure support so businesses will thrive in the region," Hataman said.

Source: Philippines News Agency