Bicam OKs bill seeking to boost functions of Bataan freeport
MANILA, Philippines — The congressional bicameral conference committee has approved a bill aiming to boost the powers and functions of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB).
The bicam committee has agreed to adopt the Senate version of the bill which is Senate Bill No. 2133 or “An Act Further Strengthening the Powers and Functions of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan.”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, co-chairman in the bicam, said that during a pre-bicam stage, they ensured the measure’s compliance with the Department of Finance’s (DOF) new policies regarding fiscal incentives
“The pre-bicam was a very critical activity because we incorporated a lot of the comments of the DOF,” Gatchalian, who also sponsored the bill, said in a statement on Friday.
“In order to pursue this measure for the benefit of the people of Bataan, we incorporated all of the comments and suggestions of the DOF,” he added.
The measure, he said, aims to clarify and expand the FAB territory to open more investment opportunities for Bataan.
Under the bill, the FAB will include land territories in the Municipality of Mariveles, which used to be part of the Bataan Economic Zone, and other areas in Mariveles that are not included in the FAB Main Zone.
Gatchalian also said the bill will also allow AFAB to create model business centers and a one-stop shop for locators by offering it certain powers within the FAB territory.
He also emphasized the potential of the FAB as an investment destination and in addressing poverty in the area. The senator cited that the number of registered enterprises in FAB rose from 33 with P5 million investments in 2010 to 130 with P6.99 billion investments in 2018.
He also said the FAB created 39,266 jobs for Bataan citizens in 2018, up from 12,777 jobs in 2010.
Once the measure is signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, Gatchalian said the FAB is expected to create 66,476 jobs for Bataan residents, while the national government could earn an estimated P7.6 billion in revenues in a span of five years.
“AFAB has really contributed not only to the country, but most importantly to the people and the province of Bataan. (That is why) we decided to pursue this measure,” he said.
“A lot of these provisions are really geared towards complying with the requirements of the DOF. We would like to ask for the support of the DOF in making sure that this bill will get the stamp of approval of the good secretary,” Gatchalian added. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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