JOLO, Sulu – In a significant move towards fostering economic growth in the region, the Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Trade, Investments, and Tourism (MTIT) presented to Sulu Provincial Governor Abdusakur Tan a proposal which seeks to create an economic zone in the province.
The creation of the economic zone, through the Bangsamoro Economic Zone Authority (BEZA), is anchored with Section 28, Article XIII of R.A. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which grants the regional government the authority
to establish economic zones, industrial estates, and free ports within the BARMM.
Atty. Sukarno Abas, the officer-in-charge executive director of BEZA, underscored the substantial advantages of economic zones in generating employment and revenue in the region.
“Binibigyang-pansin namin ngayon ang paggawa ng ecozone dito sa Sulu. Kung may mga factory dito sa Sulu, makakapag-generate tayo ng employment liban pa sa investments. After all, hindi naman ito para sa ibang tao, para lang din sa mga tao dito sa Sulu. We are just like an avenue, kasi nagiging economic driver ito,” Atty. Abas said in an interview.
An economic zone denotes a specific area within a country where businesses and investors enjoy tailored government policies. The development of this proposed economic zone can be initiated through various avenues, including private initiatives, local government unit initiatives, as well as efforts from the BARMM.
Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan expressed deep appreciation and enthusiasm for the promising outcome the economic zone could bring to the development of the province.
“Maganda yan, para sa amin, ang proposal namin ay ilagay sa Maimbung or Talipao. At the same time, kung gagawa ng seaport ay dapat doon sa malalim,” Tan suggested after the MTIT’s presentation on August 22.
The creation of economic zones within the BARMM offers several benefits, encompassing employment generation, heightened revenue generation, increased foreign and direct investments, promotion of exports, support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), an enhanced quality of life, and their role as pivotal economic drivers.
Currently, the Polloc Freeport Economic Zone, situated in Illana Bay, Parang, Maguindanao del Norte, stands as the sole existing economic zone within the BARMM. Established in 1977, the 119-hectare zone, has already generated a revenue of ₱25,851,128.03 in 2022, according to Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
Aside from the Sulu agro-economic zone, another prospective economic zones that could further contribute to the region’s growth include the Cotabato Economic Zone, Maguindanao agro-economic zone, Picong agro-industrial economic zone in Lanao del Sur, Basilan agro-processing economic zone, and the Tawi-Tawi special economic and free port zone.
This initiative aligns seamlessly with the BARMM’s 12-point priority agenda, emphasizing revenue generation, leveraging comparative advantages, and strategic investment in transportation, communication, and other critical infrastructure. (Alline Jamar Undikan/BIO)