Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto V. Garcia summed-up his first State of the Freeport Address (SOFA) with this statement: “Let the lessons of the past and the opportunities of today help us realize the vision of the New Subic that we dream of.”
Speaking before SBMA officials and members of the fledgling Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC), Garcia veered from the usual perennial rosy-picture painting of previous SBMA administrations, and revealed the true state of the freeport by admitting that the agency “never ever really made money.”
Since its creation in 1992, he said, SBMA has incurred a total cumulative loss of some P7 billion, P1.2 B in 2011 alone.
Assets like the airport and the container port terminal have been, and still are, grossly under-utilized, he added, on top of run-down aged facilities and equipment, lack of available lands for new investors and low lease rates of current locators and maturing debts, all add up to the current dire state of the freeport.
“The situation calls for radical solutions,” Garcia told the mesmerized crowd at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC). This includes a five-year strategic plan that would develop tourism niche markets by focusing the Freeport’s operations into becoming the theme park capital of the country, a top sports tourism destination and an eco-tourism and cruise ship destination.
He also aims to promote maritime businesses by attracting maritime logistics players to do business in Subic. Garcia, further, wants to match business interests of major Luzon shippers and shipping lines, maximize the Vale ore transshipment project, develope Subic as homebase for super yachts, and increase boat & ship repair and maintenance facilities.
Also part of the five-year plan is the development of housing areas with high-end residences, middle-class housing and workers’ dormitories.