SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – While the Covid-19 pandemic derailed global economic growth, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) reported continuing growth in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in 2020, including P3.2 billion in operating revenue, 69 new investments and expansion projects worth a total of P1.55 billion, and exports of $1.03 billion.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, in her State of the Freeport Address (SOFA) that was streamed online on Thursday, attributed Subic’s remarkable growth last year to sound economic fundamentals and strict adherence to government health protocols.
The SOFA presentation, an annual project of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC), was held virtually this year and broadcast over social media—the first time in 14 years of the group’s existence.
Eisma said that while Covid-19 crippled Subic’s emerging economic niche of cruise tourism, “Subic survived for the most part.”
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic did not completely erode the solid business foundation we built over the years. Our sound policies gave us the toughness to weather the storm, while proactive measures to fight Covid-19 gave us the resilience to be able to bounce back after some beatings,” Eisma said in the SOFA.
The SBMA chief then proudly ticked off positive figures recorded in 2020 by the Subic agency in its key measures. Among them are: P3.2 billion in operating revenue and P1.51 billion in operating expense; P9.2 billion in cash and investments; P6.3 billion in other assets; P30.73 million in contribution to the National Treasury; P278 million in remittances to local government units (LGU’s); P131 million in income tax remittance; and P990 million in dividends.
Eisma also noted that the Port of Subic recorded stellar numbers with $1.12 billion in imports and $1.03 billion in exports. The Subic port also recorded 226,000 twenty-footer equivalent units (TEUs) of containerized cargo volume and 7.09 million metric tons of non-containerized cargo last year.
With these, the Port of Subic generated a total of $1.2 billion in revenues last year, while the Subic Bay International Airport earned a total of P62.9 million.
In the tourism sector, Eisma said Subic recorded 5.19 million in visitor arrivals and .29 million in tourist arrivals, while generating P8.48 million from actual tourism activities despite Covid-19 restrictions.
“And even as a lot of sectors were ravaged by the economic downturn, the Subic Bay Freeport welcomed a total of 69 new investment projects,” Eisma also reported. She said the new projects were mostly in the fields of construction, health and wellness, logistics, and information and communication technology. These new projects yielded total committed investments of P1.39 billion and 682 new jobs.
On the other hand, Eisma announced that existing Subic locators set up 11 expansion projects in 2020. These are in construction, leisure, real estate, logistics, and petroleum trading, and generated a total of P163 million in new investments, as well as 264 additional employment.
She added that despite job losses when some firms closed or cut back manpower during the pandemic, the new projects, particularly in manufacturing, still brought the total Subic Freeport workforce to 138,966 workers, the highest level since Subic Freeport was established in 1992.
“Our experience in the past months of the Covid-19 pandemic tells us that it really pays to keep safe, and that there’s a reason for following rules—not only for our personal physical health, not only for the protection of our loved ones and our community, but also for economic reasons,” Eisma also pointed out.