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Indonesian-backed power producer starts 4-MW expansion in Tawi-Tawi

Tawi-Tawi residents enjoy the view of the Bongao Peak from the pier early Saturday morning.
MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 19 December) – Kaltimex Rural Energy Corp. (KREC), a subsidiary of Indonesian PT. Kaltimex Energy, has started its 4-megawatt (MW) power project expansion in Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi, keeping in step with the growth of the locality, an official said Friday.

Mohamad Omar Pasigan, newly-appointed chair of the Bangsamoro Board of Investments (BBOI) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), said the P76 million expansion will increase the capacity of KREC to supply 12 MW of electricity to Bongao.

In 2016, KREC constructed an 8-MW off-grid diesel-fired power plant in Barangay Pahut, Bongao, with an investment worth P831 million, after it was registered by the Regional Board of Investments in the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Since then, the power supply in Bongao has become stable.

“The power supply situation in Bongao is one of the best in the Bangsamoro region. Since then, brownouts seldom hit the town,” he told MindaNews.

Bongao’s economic potential has been improving. It is now more accessible with increased flights from the mainland Mindanao cities of Zamboanga and Cotabato. For decades, the laidback town managed to maintain its age-old trade ties with neighboring Sabah in Malaysia.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM spokesperson, noted that Bongao can play a strategic role in strengthening the investment potentials of the Bangsamoro region within the BIMP-EAGA, or the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area.

“From being known as the backdoor in the southern Philippines, we are positioning Tawi-Tawi, through Bongao, as our front door to BIMP-EAGA,” he told reporters earlier.

The sub-economic grouping covers the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; the provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and West Papua in Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and, Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines.

Pasigan said the BBOI-BARMM approved recently the registration for expansion of KREC, allowing the firm to enjoy fiscal incentives, including income tax holiday and reduced duties and tariffs for importation of capital equipment.

He added that investors in the BARMM can enjoy the fiscal perks provided under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE law.  

BARMM comprises the provinces of Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi, Lamitan and Cotabato, and 63 villages from six towns in North Cotabato now grouped as the Special Geographic Area.

Pasigan said KREC’s 4-MW expansion project would generate 48 jobs. 

KREC supplies electricity to the Tawi-Tawi Electric Cooperative, Inc., which distributes power supply to business and residential consumers.

Pasigan said KREC’s additional investment brought to P1.3 billion the total approved investments for this year in the Bangsamoro region.

“This is an indication of the improving investment environment in the region. Our economy is humming back to life with industry conditions becoming stable,” he said in an earlier statement.

Pasigan is hoping that with KREC’s expansion, more investors in the energy sector will follow suit in other parts of the region. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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