A House leader on Saturday is seeking the establishment of a new state-run special economic zone in Mindanao to help bring in fresh foreign investments, including those from the People’s Republic of China.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said the country needs new investors, especially in highly labor-intensive industries “to provide thousands of good-paying jobs and raise the living standards of a greater number of families in Mindanao.”
In filing House Bill 2672, Pimentel proposed the creation of the Bislig City Special Economic Zone “to drive employment and consumption growth and overall economic expansion” in Mindanao in general and in Caraga in particular.
“We are hoping to attract Chinese investors to build factories in the economic zone, considering our government-to-government as well as people-to-people relations with China have warmed up owing to President Duterte’s independent foreign policy track,” Pimentel said.
Located some 208 kilometers northeast of Davao City, Bislig is one of the two component cities of Surigao del Sur—the other being the provincial capital Tandag.
The Paper Industries Corp. (Picpo) used to operate from Bislig until the country’s only integrated forest and paper manufacturer folded up.
Caraga groups the provinces of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte and Dinagat.
In pushing for the bill’s passage, Pimentel invoked the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the State “to give all regions of the country optimum opportunity to develop, and to promote comprehensive rural development.”
“We have to put up new economic zones, particularly in Mindanao and the Visayas, to assure the more equitable distribution.of opportunities,,income and wealth through balanced economic growth,” Pimentel said.
Locators at the economic zone shall enjoy income tax holidays and waiver of taxes and duties on imported capital equipment and machinery, among other financial incentives.
Foreigners who invest at least $150,000, or P7.4 million in cash, or equipment in any enterprise located in the economic zone shall also enjoy visa and residency privileges, along with their immediate family members.