MANILA—Northern and Central Luzon already have the basic infrastructure and a large pool of human resources to stage an economic takeoff as the country’s new front door to mainland Asia.
All it lacks is an aggressive investment promotions program that packages the best the region can offer to local and foreign investors.
This was the central message of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Donald G. Dee, in his keynote address at the opening of the North Luzon Area Business Conference in Tuguegarao City, on June 24.
“North Luzon,” the PCCI boss said, “is closest to the ports of Vietnam, Taiwan, the sea-lane of mainland China and the harbors of Japan and Korea.”
“And if you make an inventory of the basic infrastructure support to trade and industry, you will find that Northern and Central Luzon are hosts to the biggest inventory of power plants that produce cheap electricity, the hydros in Benguet, Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan, the 1,200-megawatt coal power plant in Sual and a new hydro plant in Pangasinan,” Dee pointed out.
He likewise pointed out that the region now has two international airports, one in Laoag City and another in Clark, plus a string of deep international harbors from Port Irene in Cagayan, to Poro Point in La Union and Subic and Zambales.
Besides, Dee noted that the region now has a state-of-the-art telecommunications system.
“More importantly, you have educational institutions, private and public, comparable in quality to the best in Metro Manila,” Dee said.
The region should target overseas Ilocanos, Igorots, Pampangueños, and Pangasinenses, those who have carved economic niches abroad, as investors.
But, he pointed out that the region sorely needs an aggressive investment promotions program.
“People with money must know what kind of business they can enter, where those businesses should be put up, how well their investments are protected, how fast can they get the legal papers, and all those details that make doing business easier, faster, cheaper and more profitable,” Dee stressed.
He cited that Subic is the center of investments in the area today simply because then Olongapo Mayor Dick Gordon prepared CDs, printed materials, media ads, used the internet and practically went to the world’s major capitals to sell Subic as an investment and tourist haven.
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