Investors alarmed over backlash of ‘diluted’ BBL
as ARMM exceeds P1.5 billion investments
COTABATO CITY (19 May 2015) – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao continues to attract more investors as prospects for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law becomes promising.
The Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) reported the entry of a P686.74 million worth of biomass plant project in Sultan Kudarat, a new addition to the growing list of investments in the region that so far registered around P1.5 billion in the second semester of 2015.
The biomass project of Lamsan Power Corp. is set to generate 5.5 MW additional capacity for Mindanao. The project was approved in May. Another multimillion power generation project and nickel mining project will also be established in Panglima Sugala in Tawi-Tawi.
As this developed, the Promotion of Investment Sustainability Organization (PISO) is alarmed over investment sustainability in the region once the BBL turns out diluted or watered-down. The group is composed of RBOI-registered firms in ARMM.
In a statement, the group said Congress must ensure that it will pass a BBL that is faithful to the promise of full autonomy for the Bangsamoro as it is the essence of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Currently, investors have the convenience of securing permits, licenses, approvals, administrative consents and regulatory framework from the regional government without having to go to Manila or regional administrative offices. They are concerned that if the BBL is less than what the Bangsamoro aspired for, it would lessen the regional government’s autonomy and degrade the ‘investment friendly environment’ set by the current government.
These business-friendly mechanisms set by ARMM, according to the group, must be maintained or improved.
The group also cautioned Congress not to lose sight of the “ease of doing business” in the region to encourage more private sector development and not to unduly burden investors.
“The only way to have stability of investment policy for private sector development in the region is to make sure that the level of autonomy currently being experienced in ARMM is not reduced by the proposed changes to the BBL,” said the group.
The United Kingdom, a member state of the International Contact Group for the peace process, stressed the importance of stability in investment policy, particularly in mining at the signing of a P5-million grant agreement between the British Embassy in Manila and a non-government organization, Bantay Kita, in support of the Department of Finance-led Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
“There are projects that are frozen, where they simply said ‘we are not going to touch them until the rules are clear,” said British Ambassador Asif Ahmad. “There are others where they have already made an investment, ready to extract and suddenly the rules have changed. If it is a very expensive, extractive investment where there’s downstream investment as well, you can’t suddenly change the rules because these are global industries—they will simply decide that they have got other places to invest in.” (Bureau of Public Information)