PEZA-like zones eyed in ARMM

By Kris M. Crismundo

MANILA, Nov. 3 (PNA) — While waiting for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the government must look into some initiatives to increase economic development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In a press conference in Makati City on Tuesday, Makati Business Club (MBC) Chair Ramon del Rosario Jr. said economic zones with a structure like the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) can be put in place to attract investments in the southern part of the country.

Del Rosario said the idea was pitched by the Mindanao Development Council. Like PEZA, the economic zones in ARMM and can be adopted also by the entire Mindanao, will have a one-stop-shop of all elements needed in starting a business.

“You can carve out zones where you can concentrate your resources and your capabilities so they can take off. The model of PEZA is very easy to understand and is something that can be implemented,” he mentioned.

“That kind of model might be worth exploring even in the absence of BBL or while waiting for the fruits of BBL,” he added.

“We should really get off the idea to just wait things to happen because there’s urgency in pursuing development. We should actively look for opportunities,” he further said.

Del Rosario stressed that businesses are looking into exploring the Bangsamoro area but the absence of sustained peace and security make it difficult for investors to pour in large scale investments in the region.

“The dream that we have is that the people of Mindanao will participate in great economic resurgence that we are all experiencing. But not only to become a part of it but to be a leading region because of all these promise in Mindanao which have not been tapped,” he said.

The MBC, along with other local and foreign business groups in the country, placed its strong support for the swift passage of an acceptable and meaningful BBL before the leadership transition next year.

International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance Chair Melito Salazar Jr. noted that the passage of BBL will put in place institutions, funding, and infrastructure in the area.

“There will obviously be significant if not massive projects going on in the area. We all know that when government launches this type of projects, this will translate into economic growth,” said Salazar.

“The structures in place, the government will put infrastructure and so on, business will come in. And when businesses come in, think in terms of economic growth that will be there,” he added. (PNA)