A bill that strengthens and expands the powers of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Development Authority has been passed at the House of Representatives by a vote of 200 to six without abstention.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, principal author of House Bill No. 8720 mandates the SBMA to have authority and jurisdiction over all economic activities in the free port zone.
The measured amends Republic Act No. 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.
The expanded authority of the SBMA includes the power to inspect and register leisure ships and pleasure yachts of any ship owner.
For this purpose, the bill provides the SBMA shall administer and maintain an open register of leisure ships and pleasure yachts subject only to such rules and regulation to be promulgated by the SBMA in consultation with the Department of Transportation.
The bill also mandates the SBMA to administer and implement incentives granted to its registered business enterprises.
Likewise, the SBMA shall fix and impose just and reasonable rates and prices for the establishment, operation and maintenance of infrastructure, services and businesses in the Subic Special Economic Zone pertaining to electronic, web and cloud data operators and providers and telecommunications; shipping and maritime business and activities; airport operations; and all other similar matters inside the economic zone.
Once enacted, the bill hopes to improve the revenue collection of SBMA and thereby increase the shares of the local government units affected as well as that of the national government.
Among the changes introduced by HB No. 8720 is the inclusion of a provision that the municipalities of San Antonio, San Marcelino, and Castillejos of the province of Zambales and the municipalities of Morong, Hermosa, and Dinalupihan of the province of Bataan may cede in whole or in part their entire municipal territory to the Subic Special Economic Zone for a period of not less than 50 years.