Butuan Attracts Huge Foreign Projects

MANILA, Philippines - Butuan, the gateway to the CARAGA region, will host three huge foreign investments in hydro solar, biomass power projects and a commercial establishment by Robinsons, which would be the biggest in Mindanao.

Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. said during a press conference for the 21st Mindanao Business Conference (MINBIZCON) to be held in Butuan City on August 2 to 4 that his city is getting some attention from foreign investors.

Amante said the three foreign investors are the Japanese Chodai Group and 8 Japan; Enfinity of Belgium; and Malaysian Transport Division (MTD).

According to Amante, the Japanese investors are now undertaking a feasibility study for a 15-megawatt hydro power generation project and another 6-mw biomass power project that would entail the development of a tree plantation over an 11,000-hectare property to be leased by the local government.

Enfinity, a Belgian group, would be investing in a 50-hectare solar farm to generate a 10-MW power plant. The company is set to start in seven months.

The Belgian firm finances, develops, builds, owns, operates and maintains solar power projects or the green power, mostly in developed countries.

The Malaysian group Malaysian Transport Division through its local partner is investing P1.5 billion for a township project on a 5.5-hectare property complete with commercial center and clustered government offices. The project also includes the establishment of a big convention center and a hotel.

''The target is to start in September this year and complete the project in May next year,'' Amante said.

Amante also said that Robinsons is investing P1 billion for the development of a 6-hectare property into a commercial center and a hotel.

Once completed in May next year, the Robinsons development is expected to become the biggest Gokongwei commercial development in the whole of Mindanao, Amante said.

''We are positioning Butuan City as the gateway to the CARAGA region because all those going to Agusan and Surigao provinces go through us,'' he said.

Besides, Amante said, Butuan although being the center of commerce in CARAGA, cannot also compete with the tourist attractions of Surigao and Agusan.

''We cannot compete with the white beaches of Surigao and the surfing attractions because we are fit for forest-based industries,'' he said.

The new investments in Butuan City are expected to augment the capacity of the city to host visitors. At present, the city has only 1,500 hotel rooms, not enough when the city hosts huge events.

Butuan is going to host the 21ST Mindanao Business Conference on August 2-4 where all local chambers in Mindanao of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the PCCI leadership from Manila will converge for the three-day event.

Amante also noted a growing number of visitors in Butuan. Just last summer, they have 9 daily flights from Manila.

In addition, the local government is pushing for the completion of the second phase of the Masao port by the Philippine Port Authority.