ARMM calls for more investments in Basilan and Sulu
COTABATO CITY – The government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the business sector in the region are calling for more investments in the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu.
The call was agreed upon by ARMM officials and business sector leaders in the recent 2017 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) Roadshow for Basilan and Sulu held in Zamboanga City. The roadshow was organized by the region’s Regional Board of Investments (RBOI).
Sulu and Basilan are surrounded by rich fishery grounds such as Basilan Strait, Moro Gulf, Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea producing quality aqua marine products and fishes. Both provinces have good soil attributes and sound climatic conditions suitable for high-value agricultural and industrial crops such as corn, coconut, rubber and many others. These positive characteristics attract investors to come and invest in the island provinces.
Dr. Rima Hassan, chairperson of the ARMM Business Council and a Basilan-based businesswoman, urged the ARMM government to find investors that can match the resources and skills of the local folks. “We hope that there will be power plants, milling plants, manufacturing plants and factories that can generate a large number of jobs. We want to maximize the sustainable use of our natural resources and take advantage of our serene nature and promote eco-halal tourism,” Hassan further said.
Ellen Lourdes Kionisala of Boi-cagayan de Oro City Extension Office, said, “the reason why some investors hesitate to invest in the ARMM is because of the high-risk environment due to the issues of conflict and terrorism that have stricken the region for decades.”
The latest is the Marawi siege, an urban war waged by the Maute terrorist group now in its 10th week, triggering the Duterte administration to declare Martial law in Mindanao. “But this has not affected Mindanao’s economic activities since it is business as usual,” Kionisala said.
Lawyer Ishak Mastura, chairman and managing head of RBOI-ARMM, revealed there are investors ready to invest in region. “As of July 2017, we have registered P3.65 billion worth of investments despite the ongoing Marawi crisis and we are expecting additional P1.5 billion in investments from companies engaged in cacao plantations and other agri-based projects before the year ends,” Chairman Mastura added.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman also calls for more investments in Basilan and Sulu. “We want more investments in the region to prevent the formation of lawless elements in these areas, because what brings them to this situation is the lack of job opportunities which can be addressed if there are more businesses that will create productive activities and provide them with livelihoods to support their families,” Gov. Hataman said.
One of the highlights of the roadshow is the awarding of RBOI Certificate of Registration to J. Sayang Shipping Lines, Inc., which was received by the company’s president Mohammad Faisal Jamalul.
J. Sayang Shipping Lines, Inc. invested P33.5 million for a cargo-shipping project based in Bongao, Tawi-tawi that deals on inter-island trade, as well as cross-border shipping with Sabah, Malaysia. Registered firms with RBOI enjoy fiscal and nonfiscal incentives from the government.