Development of John Hay economic zone backed

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BAGUIO CITY  – The thrust of the new leadership of the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to pursue the development of the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) by renegotiating the mutually resstituted 50-year development contract will be beneficial to the local government and the people of the city once realized, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said here recently.

The local chief executive welcomed the decision of the new BCDA leadership to pursue the development of the declared special economic zone as this will translate to the creation of more employment opportunities for the qualified local residents and the expected increase in the income of the city,  among other direct and indirect benefits.

“The pendency of the arbitral case deprived the local government of huge potential income from the supposed businesses that could have been established if the development of the economic zone was pursued. We cannot understand why the previous administration was closed to the idea of the renegotiation of the lease agreement that could have come out with better terms,” Domogan stressed.

He noted Camp John Hay Development Corporation was only able to develop at least 25 percent of the areas identified to be developed over an 18-year period since the agreement was signed between the contracting parties in 1997.

According to him, the new BCDA administration is on the right track in trying to fix the mess created by the previous leadership to bring back a healthy and harmonious relationship between the government and the developers.

He explained the local government is only a stakeholder in the development of the JHSEZ because the contracting parties include the BCDA and the CJHDevCo, thus, it is best for both parties to go back to the drawing board to iron out things and discuss the possibility of pursuing the stalled development project.

Domogan argued Resolution No. 362, series of 1994 that prescribed the 19 conditions imposed by the local government for the development of the former American rest and recreation area was part and parcel of the contract between the two parties, thus, the city should always be consulted whenever there are planned changes in the terms and conditions of the agreement.

The 247-hectare special economic zone is part of the 686-hectare Camp John Hay forest reservation that encompasses 14 heavily populated barangays that should be already segregated from the reservation, and that the occupied areas be awarded to the qualified homelot applicants pursuant to the conditions of the city for the development of the former air station.

Domogan commended the new BCDA leadership for having thought of renegotiating the lease contract in order to come out with a ‘win-win solution’ to pave the way for the realization of the full potentials of development inside the reservation and help spur the city’s economic growth.

By Dexter A. See

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