IN a bid to be on a par with or perhaps surpass other cities in terms of economic development, the local government units of Pasay City and Manila tapped the private sector to help boost their march to progress.
The two cities led by Manila Mayor Joseph E. Estrada and Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to pursue together with “utmost effort to cooperate with each other and extend mutual assistance” to their separate partnerships with private groups to reclaim huge swathes of the Manila Bay to develop a valuable coastal real estate, as well as generate employment and other economic opportunities in the two premier coastal cities in Metro Manila.
Aside from Estrada and Calixto, representatives of the three groups with respective reclamation proposals in the Manila Bay area, namely Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. (MGDC), SM Prime Holdings Inc.; and the Pasay Harbor City consortium, signed the agreement. The MOA clears the way for the three reclamation projects to go full speed and move forward by the different project proponents.
Estrada expressed optimism in the project not only enhancing Manila’s coffers but also generating employment. “Not only will these reclamation projects substantially increase the revenues of our city, it will also generate approximately 500,000 new jobs for our residents,” Estrada said in his speech the recently concluded Manila City Development Council Convention.
He also pointed out that the 148-hectare Manila Solar City Reclamation Project will soon start in early-2019, the biggest reclamation project between the Manila-Pasay border in the south and Roxas Boulevard in the east. The project would occupy around 3.5 kilometers of Manila Bay’s shoreline.
As laid down in the MOA, the three “Manila and Pasay Reclamation Projects” were identified as the MGDC’s 148-hectare reclamation project in joint venture with the Manila Local Government Unit “involving the southern parcel of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project-North Sector, otherwise known as ‘Solar City’ Project”; the SM Prime Holdings Inc.’s 300-hectare and 60-hectare projects in joint venture with the Pasay LGU; and the Pasay Harbor City consortium’s 265-hectare reclamation project in joint venture with the Pasay LGU, otherwise known as the “Pasay Harbor City project.”
Estrada said Manila needs more investments from the private sector to lift the nation’s capital from economic doldrums. According to the 2016 Commission on Audit report, Manila ranked third-richest city in the country with assets worth P36.102 billion, from P33.104 billion in 2015. Quezon City led the pack with P59.556 billion assets in 2016, from P51.648 billion the year before, while Makati was at second spot with P54.85 billion assets, from P49.494 billion in 2015. At fourth place was Cebu City with P32.623 billion assets in 2016, a slight increase from P32.41 billion in 2015.
Pasig was fifth with P29.899 billion, from P24.945 billion in 2015; Taguig placed sixth with P16.268 billion, from P14.291 billion in 2015; and Pasay with P14.954 billion, from P13.487 billion in 2015. Caloocan with P14.702 billion, from P12.943 billion in 2015, placed eight.
Moreover, he cited a recent research conducted by professors from the University of the Philippines indicating the need for Manila to attract huge investments from the private sector to generate more growth. The study said Manila has the highest poverty incidence in the national capital region because many of them are jobless.
“So in a sense, these reclamation projects are the answer to our prayers. We will be able to provide decent jobs opportunities to our citizens,” Estrada said.
“With this milestone project, we are getting close to achieving our dream of regaining the City of Manila’s old title, the Pearl of the Orient. This will mean a lot to us in terms of revenues, and employment and business opportunities,” Estrada said.
The project involves the construction of three 140-hectare islands in Manila Bay, and expected to start with the initial construction and dredging work next year.
“As a positive consequence, the RPT share of barangays will increase accordingly. In the first year, expected additional share will amount to P5 million and P15 million per barangay after five more years,” Estrada said.
He said this will also enable the city government to expand social services, state-of-the-art medical equipment, increase salary of city employees and build more parks as well as playgrounds for children.
Manila stands to earn about P10 billion in real estate taxes and create 200,000 jobs from the P12-billion reclamation in Manila Bay.