POSTSCRIPT / January 12, 2014 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Clark summit seeks clearer policy, plans

CLARK FIELD – Central Luzon stakeholders will meet at the summit here on Thursday to firm up a consensus for prodding the administration to adopt a clear policy direction and action plan for Clark-centered regional development.

Expected to attend the conference at the Widus hotel and convention center here are some 200 business, government and civic leaders anxious for a faster integration of development plans for the booming Central Luzon area.

Rep. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao of Pampanga’s first district points out that Clark Freeport is smack at the converging point of the North Luzon Expressway, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the older MacArthur Highway. The region is blessed, he adds, with rich human and natural resources.

The national capital is looking to the centrally located area around Clark for the dispersal of business and other opportunities crammed to the limit in Metro Manila. But such development, Guiao says, needs planning, resources and political will.

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WATER NEEDS: Power and water are among the ingredients of growth. In just two years, for instance, water consumption in this Freeport is expected to swell by 75 percent of the current 30,000 cubic meters per day with the influx of more locators in this fast-growing business hub.

Jesus D. Laigo, chief operating officer and general manager of Clark Water Corp. (a subsidiary of the Ayala group’s Manila Water Co.), said this was the main reason why CWC is tapping more water sources and upgrading the distribution system in its concession area.

This water demand projection covers only the present Clark zone. It is expected to rise with the fast-tracking of the development by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority of a Clark-centered Smart Green City complex.

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CWC CAPEX: For 2014, Clark Water is set to infuse P30 million in fresh capital to build three more deep wells that should raise its daily water extraction rate to 40,000 cu.m. per day, Laigo said.

He and Manila Water communications head Jeric T. Sevilla were guests in last Friday’s media forum at the Bale Balita (House of News) here hosted by the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) in partnership with the Clark Development Corp. and the Social Security System.

Laigo said the new deep wells are designed to generate an additional five million liters of potable water per day to meet the requirements of locators along Industrial Estate 5, Global Gateway Logistics City and the business and residential units in the M.A. Roxas area.

Clark Water currently supplies some 32 million liters of potable water daily to consumers living and doing business here.

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UPBEAT PICTURE: Clark Water has pumped in some P1.4 billion to upgrade the infrastructure of this Freeport’s water system previously owned and operated by the French firm Veola until 2011 when it sold its interest to Manila Water.

The CWC executive reported that the company posted P86 million in profits in 2012, higher than the P79-million net gains it chalked up the previous year.

The profit picture for 2013 will still be positive, Laigo said, but the growth rate would be somewhat tempered by the slower-than-forecast increase in the number of locators here.

He said the prospects, though, for attracting more businesses in the medium term remain upbeat as indicated by, for instance, the rising number of international airlines using Clark International Airport as their second gateway into the Philippines.

He referred to the recent introduction of the daily flight services of two international Arab airlines, Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways.

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NEW LOCATORS, MORE JOBS: The Clark Freeport, which sprawls on some 34,500 hectares including the aviation complex and the subzone in Sacobia, has attracted some 650 locators employing more than 71,000 workers as of April last year.

A report of CDC President and CEO Arthur Tugade said that eight new locators have signed up, committing investments of $31.42 million and generating 8,928 new jobs. As of last July, seven projects were also revived, drawing in some $175.14 million in fresh capital.

For 2014, the Korean firm Sambon Precision and Electronics Co. Ltd. holds the distinction of being the first new investor in Clark.

Sambon President Joontaik Jang and its adviser Seunghoon Yang signed last Monday the memorandum of agreement with CDC head Tugade under a “supply-chain” concept.

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SUPPLY-CHAIN: Under the supply-chain idea, Sambon the mother manufacturing firm brings in its suppliers to ensure more efficient delivery of raw materials. (Tugade happens to be a logistics expert in his own right as a businessman before he was tapped to head CDC.)

Sambon, a manufacturer of electronic components, such as speakers, earphones and headphones, is itself a supplier for companies assembling electronic equipment, such as JVC of Japan.

Tugade explained that the supply-chain concept is feasible because of the ideal location here of the Clark International Airport and the efficient link to the Subic seaport via the SCTEx.

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RAMOS ROLE: He recalled that it was former President Fidel V. Ramos who introduced him to the Sambon executives. “I have some friends who want to put up a business in the Philippines,” he quoted the former President as telling him. He said he assured Mr. Ramos that after the introduction, he would do the rest.

Sambon has a $10-million investment in China where it has 2,000 workers. It will initially invest $3 million in Clark and hire 100 employees who will be trained for three months.

Jang said they chose Clark over other sites, because of the people here who showed them character and gracious hospitality while maintaining no-nonsense business dealings.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 12, 2014)

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