Zamboanga ecozone says BPO locators expected to start operations in 2018

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ZAMBOANGA CITY — Two business process outsourcing (BPO) buildings worth P221 million are set to be built inside the freeport zone here, with operations targeted to start by next year.

The buildings, rising four storeys, “will house call centers and medical transcription companies among others,” Christopher Lawrence S. Arnuco, chair and administrator of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone (ZamboEcozone) Authority, said in an interview with the media.

Mr. Arnuco said Zamboanga City’s strengths include the availability of workers fluent in English, Arabic and Spanish.

He added that the ZamboEcozone is optimistic that outsourcing firms will find the city’s offerings attractive.

Pedro Rufo N. Soliven, governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. for Western Mindanao, said the city government has also mapped out significant allocations for the development of an information and communications technology (ICT) hub under its investment plan, which is included in the Zamboanga Peninsula regional development plan.

“[The] city has allocated in the 2017 budget the amount of P10 million, and another P15 million for next year,” Mr. Soliven told BusinessWorld.

He said the local government’s aim is to create “an enabling environment with the right ecosystem and private-public partnership… for the ICT sector to flourish and prosper.”

Earlier, the city government, in partnership with the Zamboanga ICT sector, released an executive order for the conversion of the idle Zamboanga Convention Center into an ICT hub. The city council has also approved a resolution for the plan. 

Last week, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) center announced that an international transaction advisor has been hired for the San Ramon Newport Project inside the ZamboEcozone.

BDO LLP, a professional services firm based in the UK, will help the ZamboEcozone Authority prepare the feasibility study, including transaction documents, and manage the PPP bidding process until financial close.

The San Ramon Newport Project involves the financing, design, construction, operations and maintenance of an international seaport inside the ecozone.

“The PPP Center is very optimistic about the San Ramon Newport Project. The ZamboEcozone Authority, which will implement this project, is committed to get this project off the ground,” PPP Center Executive Director Ferdinand A. Pecson said in a statement.

As of 2016,the ZamboEcozone had 30 registered locators with P1.5 billion worth of actual investment and P23.7 billion of committed investment. Total exports last year were valued at $6.3 million while raw materials brought in were worth P1.3 billion. — Albert F. Arcilla