COTABATOCity and First District of Maguindanao Representative Bai Sandra Sema, one of the main proponents of the recently passed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), was part of a Philippine delegation that went to Saudi Arabia where they were able to get investment pledges for Cotabato City and other Bangsamoro provinces from Arabia businessmen.
The delegation, composed of Filipino government officials and businessmen headed by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, went to Saudi Arabia to present investment possibilities for Middle Eastern businessmen in the newly created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“Now that the Bangsamoro Organic Law has been passed it is time to work for the economic prosperity of the newly created BARMM,” Rep. Sema stressed. “This investment mission was done as the next important step to ensure that new investments will come in for Cotabato City and the rest of the unified BARMM and realize the promise of the BOL,” she added.
The delegation was received by the Majlis Ash Shura, the Consultative Assembly and advisory council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), led by its President, Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al Sheik.
The first day of the mission saw Speaker Arroyo leading the Philippine delegation in a visit to Riyadh to meet with members of the the Majlis Ash Shura and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), the foreign investment license provider for the KSA.
On the second day of the mission, Rep. Sema took over as head of the delegation. The group went to Jeddah to meet with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), the oldest business and services organizations in KSA with a membership of 120,000 businessmen.
The JCCI expressed a keen interest in investing in agriculture and other Halal-related businesses in the Philippines—particularly coffee, fish and carrageenan seaweed—especially if the proposed Halal Economic Zone Authority (HEZA) comes to fruition.
Rep. Sema filed a bill last year to create the HEZA in Cotabato City which is intended to be the center of Halal-related businesses in the BARMM.
“With the HEZA, Cotabato City becomes an important economic center in the Philippines and a gateway to the ASEAN for Halal-oriented businesses,” Rep. Sema noted. “All these initiatives we have been doing are meant to set the stage for Cotabato City’s transformation into a BARMM city,” she added.
After the two-day investment mission, the delegation will go back for another meeting in Saudi Arabia to do business-matching between Filipino businessmen and Arabian investors.
“It is high time that economic prosperity becomes the overarching concept that defines the Bangsamoro region where peace and unity reign instead of war and discord,” Rep. Sema asserted.