The State-owned Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) is not abandoning the P480 million Burnham Park development project to improve the state of the city’s premier tourist destination to provide new attractions for both residents and tourists once the prevailing levels of community quarantine will be eased up in the future.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong stated that in a recent meeting with TIEZA officials, city officials were assured that the agency will work out the funds required for the implementation of the project by next year.
He added that TIEZA officials assured them that the previous P400 million funding for the Burnham Park development project will be increased to P480 million that might be included in the annual budget of the government by next year or the same will be sourced out from other sources to ensure the implementation of the improvement of the premier park to boost the revival of the local tourism industry.
Earlier, the tourism department and the local government signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the latter to provide the initial P400 million to support the proposed upgrading of Burnham Park before the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent implementation of the various levels of community quarantine that started in March 17, 2020.
However, these funds were garnished by the government to bankroll the numerous anti-COVID response to mitigate the heavy impact of the pandemic to the employment and the economic activities of the people in the different parts of the country.
Magalong expressed hope that the proposed upgrading of Burnham Park will be pursued once the funds will be made available by TIEZA so that residents and tourists alike can enjoy new attractions inside the city’s premier park once tourism will be reopened to help revive the heavily impacted local economy.
He claimed that the local government cannot afford to loan the required funds for the upgrading of Burnham Park as it is already inclined to borrow the needed amount to rehabilitate the city’s sewerage system to help clean the waste water being discharged to the different bodies of water.
The local government prepared the comprehensive master development plan for the proposed rehabilitation of portions of the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex that served as the basis for TIEZA and the tourism department in committing the funds required to upgrade the current state of the city’s premier tourist destination located at the heart of the central business district area.
The local chief executive stipulated that the city will simply await the further developments from TIEZA on the status of the funds that will be provided to pursue the long overdue rehabilitation and upgrading of the different portions of the park for the benefit of the possible revival of the local tourism industry that serve as the bread and butter of thousands of residents.
By Dexter A. See
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis