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Iloilo seeks investors to revive downtown, improve ports

Vol. XXII, No. 189 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

ILOILO CITY — The city government here is looking for investors who can revitalize the central business district (CBD) downtown and improve the ports linking Iloilo and Guimaras.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, who also heads the Metro Iloilo Guimaras Economic Development Council, said the city government and the provincial government of Guimaras lack the funds to undertake the projects.

"We don’t foresee the government to spend, thus it will be a public-private partnership. The city government will act as partner, while the private sector will put up and run the facility because it will be difficult for the city to operate a port. Once the port facilities are improved, more tourists will arrive which means more economic activities for the city and Guimaras," Mr. Treñas said.

A pre-feasibility study conducted last year by the Consultants for Comprehensive Environmental Planning Inc. (Concep) on the CBD revitalization and the Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal System showed that the two projects are feasible, Mr. Treñas said. The Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) had granted P4.7 million for the study.

"We foresee that these projects are going to be attractive for them [prospective investors]. The pre-feasibility studies crafted last year show that the projects are financially feasible. The projects are attractive enough for investors," Mr. Treñas said.

Nathaniel Von Eisiendel, head of the study team, said the port project will initially cost more than P10 million.

Mr. Treñas said the CDIA and the Asian Development Bank granted another $80,000 to upgrade the study. Some legal technicalities are being ironed out for the smooth implementation of the two projects, either through a build-operate-transfer scheme or joint venture between the local governments and the private sector.

The CBD project includes JM Basa, Ledesma, Iznart, Arroyo and Aldeguer Streets in the downtown or Calle Real area. It also covers the rehabilitation and improvement of the Iloilo Central Market and a 1.37-hectare compound along Iznart Street which will be transformed into an urban consumer market. Mr. Treñas said the City Hall will continue to manage the Iloilo Central Market within the CBD.

The Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal System project, meanwhile, will improve and modernize the Parola, Buenavista and Jordan wharves to cater to the expanding number of commuters between Iloilo and Guimaras. The Ortiz Port, which serves passengers bound for Jordan, Guimaras, will also continue to operate to preserve the livelihood of residents near the port. — Francis Allan L. Angelo


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