THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said it has briefed Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on the possibility of investing in economic zones in the Philippines.
BY: CHAMBER OF REAL ESTATE AND BUILDERS' ASSOCIATIONS, INC.
November 23, 2016
POSTED IN: Global Property Updates
By: Roy Stephen C. Canivel Business World | November 21, 2016
PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza said that members of the royal families of both countries have expressed interest to lease land here for agricultural and energy projects, with one interested party seeking as much as a million hectares of agricultural land in exchange for social development projects such as school buildings.
â€œPEZA is now exploring the Middle East market. I visited the Royal families of Qatar and United Arab Emirates. And theyâ€™re all interested to invest in the Philippines through the special economic zones program of PEZA,â€ she told reporters on Nov. 17 in the sidelines of a corporate thanksgiving party.
â€œThis is one big market. They have a lot of money, and theyâ€™re exactly looking for areas to invest. Theyâ€™re interested to lease our agricultural lands because they live in a desert. They are importing agricultural products from other countries. Now that they know weâ€™ll be putting up economic zones on agro-forestry and agro-industrial economic zones, theyâ€™re going to lease.â€
â€œOne project is theyâ€™re looking for islands to store their oil because they know sooner or later their oil will be depleted. Theyâ€™re going to lease these islands to deposit their oil. If ever that will be realized that we will be able to lease to them, upon the approval of President, we may want to have a refinery there.â€
She said that interested investors from the Middle East will visit the country this week to explore their options.
The investment promotion agencyâ€™s pivot towards Middle Eastern investments marks Ms. Plazaâ€™s first major initiative as the new head of PEZA, replacing former Director-General Lilia B. De Lima who retired earlier this year.
The former representative of Butuan City, who was also one of the authors of the Special Economic Zones Law that created PEZA, said that she has received a directive from President Rodrigo R. Duterte to put idle land and islands into use. In the case of the Middle Eastern investors, Ms. Plaza said that they are interested in turning selected lands into oil deposit facilities and refineries.
PEZA has asked government agencies to draw up an inventory of land and islands that may possibly be converted into these special economic zones. In particular, Ms. Plaza said she met with representatives from the Environment department, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the Asset Privatization Trust, and the Philippine Reclamation Authority.
â€œWhat weâ€™re offering our foreign investors is to lease for 75 years. That is provided in the law,â€ she said, citing Republic Act No. 7916 or the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 which was amended by Republic Act No. 8748.
â€œAll our agricultural areas, forestry areas, the islands that theyâ€™re going to convert into cities which fall under the Duterte program. The President has been planning to look for investors and build cities in our islands. The target is all lands and islands will be utilized because as of now, we have a lot of empty islands.â€