By Butch Fernandez
October 13, 2011
Administrators of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Apeco) are eyeing separate funding sources to facilitate early completion of its air and seaport projects to attract more local and foreign investors to the region.
Roberto Mathay, Apeco president and chief executive officer, confirmed ongoing efforts by the national government to tap the Korean Export-Import Bank to provide $55-million funding for the seaport project under the official development assistance (ODA) program.
Mathay said additional funding of P92 million is being allocated by the Philippine government in the annual national expenditure program to complete a proposed 1.5-kilometer airport runway, under the Civil Aeronautics Authority.
This developed as Sen. Frank Drilon, finance committee chairman, announced after a public hearing on Wednesday that Apeco’s proposed 2012 budget, amounting to P332.5 million, is deemed submitted for approval, despite opposition from restive residents affected by the projects.
“We are going to try to track more locators to Apeco pa rin. Our mandate is to bring varied business interests in marine-culture business, as well as ecotourism to the zone so we can transform it to something the people from Casiguran can be proud of,” Mathay said. “We are [also] looking at agroindustrial or mariculture, or other businesses which are more fitting to the area. We would like to focus on small to medium enterprises, both from the Philippines and from abroad.”
Mathay disclosed they have, likewise, requested funding from Congress, as part of their capital outlay for this year, to have “a standard factory building where we can have smaller companies establish their operations in the zone.”
He reported that the mariculture business at the zone include raising bangus and tilapia and processing these to fillet or fish ball which are then sold in the local market and nearby provinces, such as in Isabela and Quirino. “Eventually, we may also export them,” he added.
“There are other prospects. One company we are signing up plans to put up sea cages. We are trying to finalize the details [for their operation] by November,” Mathay said.