APECO on the brink of being closed down

A Senate finance sub-committee on Thursday, Sept. 23 threatened to close down the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO) for poor performance despite its having gotten P2.2 billion in government subsidy since 2002.

Senator Richard J. Gordon, committee chairman, made the threat after hearing the ‘’very jarring’’ performance of APECO of a big number of bringing investors, mostly foreign;, the not so acceptable findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) such as its poor planning; and the proposed 2022 P52 million budget of APECO.

Both Senators Gordon and Imee Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate Economic Affairs committee, agreed that putting up an economic zone is difficult as they appreciated the location of APECO in the economic picture of the country.

APECO is in Casiguran, Aurora. It faces Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean.

Gordon said he had fought for APECO because he believes in the vision of its planner, the late Senate President Edgardo J. Angara.

He pointed out to an analysis that the return on investment by APECO is only P72 million despite its P2.2 billion government subsidy.

`While both senators want APECO to succeed, Gordon admitted that his committee would have difficulty in defending its budget on the Senate floor unless its officials present during its next hearing a realistic program to be attained next year.

‘’Oh Boy. You have nothing,’’ Gordon said/

Marcos asked: ‘’What are we going to do?’’

APECO officials said 11 firms, mostly foreigners, have started building villas while another is another firm is on a site development for the assembly of electronic components.

So far, only Lucky Dragon, a South Korean firm, is operating at APECO, Ismael F. Maducdoc, APECO president and CEO, said.

Maducdoc said activity at APECO has been slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also said construction of a 300-room hotel would also start next year.

Maducdoc assured Gordon that APECO would show improvements next year.