House panel approves bill creating economic zone around SMC’s Bulacan airport

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 1) — A House of Representatives panel has approved the bill creating an economic zone around San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) soon-to-rise airport in Bulakan, Bulacan.

Majority of House Economic Affairs Committee members voted in favor of the House Bill 7483 establishing the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport on Tuesday.

The Bulacan Ecozone aims to serve as a new investment hub for foreign business owners, complementing the expected surge in number of passengers once the airport operates.

The New Manila International Airport (NMIA) has a total capacity of over 100 million passengers annually when fully operational.

Located in the town of Bulakan in Bulacan, 35 kilometers north of Metro Manila, the NMIA is aiming to be the country’s next gateway.

SMC’s ₱734-billion masterpiece, also dubbed as the “game changer,” is seen to ease traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

READ: Bulacan Int'l Airport to start construction by October – SMC

House Economic Affairs Committee Chair Representative Sharon Garin said the Bulacan Ecozone can help boost economic growth and create jobs for more Filipinos.

“It is quite a big project for the government for this development and in my opinion, it would deliver substantial economic activity in the area and in Metro Manila,” Garin said.

The bill will give tax breaks and fiscal incentives to foreign firms that will do business and set up factories in the said ecozone.

Business establishments will only have to pay a five percent final tax on their gross income instead of the usual corporate income taxes.

One percent of the final tax will go the national government, provincial government, and municipal government each.

The other two percent, meanwhile, will be remitted to the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority.

Foreign nationals with an investment of US$200 thousand or roughly P10 million will also be entitled to an investor’s visa.

This gives them the right to stay in the country while the investment subsists and must submit annual reports to the government.

Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, meanwhile, suggested the final version of the bill should make sure the welfare of affected locals will be taken care of.

SMC earlier relocated hundreds of families, mostly fisherfolk, to better homes from the site where the conglomerate is going to build the airport.

READ: How San Miguel’s Bulacan airport project changed the lives of locals for the better 

“I cannot overemphasize the need to really have this kind of an airport where we will have four runways. And so, there are problems but it is needed by our country now more than ever,” Rodriguez said.