First LGU in PH to do so

READY FOR BIG-TICKET INVESTMENTS. Thus said Northern Samar Governor Edwin Ongchuan (center) in a media conference on Wednesday (April 17) as his province pioneers the implementation of the green lane for strategic investments, referring to multi-billions worth of investments. Beside the governor are Board of Investments Director Ernesto Delos Reyes (left) and Lubin De Vera, Jr.

TACLOBAN CITY– The provincial government of Northern Samar was commended by the Board of Investments (BOI) for coming up with its own ‘green lane’ intended for big-ticket investments, a move expected to spur economic development in the province.

BOI Director Ernesto Delos Reyes, Jr., in charge of the office’s investments assistance service, said that Northern Samar is the first local government unit in the country to establish a green lane for strategic investment.

He said that the establishment of the green lane may prove to be a game-changer for Northern Samar, one of the poorest provinces in the country with around 26 percent poverty incidence.

“We are glad that the province has established its own green lane for strategic investments, becoming the first local government unit in the country to do so,” Delos Reyes said during an interview on Wednesday (April 17).

He added the provincial government of Northern Samar should take advantage of its strategic location being the gateway of Eastern Visayas to the rest of the country adding that it has abundant natural resources with a skilled and hardworking workforce.
The creation of green lanes for strategic investment is mandated under Executive Order 18 issued by Pres. Marcos on February 23, 2023, which aims to attract strategic investments in the country.

Strategic investments refer to those that are aligned with the Philippine Development Plan or any similar national development plan and can be characterized by significant capital or consequential economic impact.

Governor Edwin Ongchuan issued Executive Order Number 24 last Jan. 12, 2024 for the establishment of their own green lane with the provincial economic development and investment promotions office, headed by Jan Allen Berbon, as the lead agency.

The center, together with the BOI, will help fast-track the process of securing all the needed permits and documents by the potential investors, thus avoiding the red tape common in the country’s bureaucracy.

It was learned that for simple transactions, actions could be finished within 3 working days; seven working days for complex transactions; and 20 working days for those involving highly technical transactions.

Delos Reyes said that their office will monitor if these mandated days of transactions would not be violated, saying a complaint could be filed at the ARTA or the Anti-Red Tape Authority which is under the Office of the President.

And if this would work successfully in Northern Samar, Delos Reyes said that he would request the Department of Interior and Local Government to direct all LGUs to have their own green lane for strategic investments.

Meantime, Gov. Ongchuan said that he is optimistic that the creation of their own green lane would lead to the coming in of big investors to the province which is actually happening now.

In particular, Ongchuan cited the ongoing development work of an on-shore wind project by Aboitiz Renewables, Inc. and Vena Energy at San Isidro town which has employed about 300 locals.

Another big-ticket investment coming to the province is the off-shore wind power project by the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) with an initial investment of P108 billion.
In addition, a tidal power facility is to be built in the town of Capul by Energies PH, Inc.
“The advantage here is, of course, this could help generate employment among the locals,” he said.

For his part, Berbon said that more than the incentives being offered by the Philippine government to foreign investors, they are more interested in having an easy and transparent business climate.

“They just want to fast track in securing the (needed) permit which we can provide through this green lane or one-stop shop,” he said.