Officials of the Philippine government and Ekran Berhad Sdn. have committed to reopen the stalled P1.5 billion Ekran Berhad Samal Casino Resort at the Island Garden City of Samal by December 2009.
In a press conference Monday here Presidential Adviser for Mindanao and Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) signing minister Jesus Dureza said Ekran Berhad Sdn CEO Tan Sri Datuk Paduka (Dr.)
Ting Pek Khiing in a meeting with him and Samal Island city officials in Kuala Lumpur last July has expressed the company’s intention to infuse an additional capital including P200 million for the reshaping of the complex.
Based on the briefer of the project, “Ekran Berhad is set to invest an estimated US$ 15-20 (P966.60 million) to reopen its Ekran Berhad Samal Casino Resort project.
Since its closure, the Real Propety Tax (RPT) of the resort complex has accrued to P35 million as of December 2008.
In the same meeting, Samal Island city government through Mayor Aniano Antalan has committed to waive the RPT fines and penalties worth approximately P7 million cutting the remaining arrears down to about P28 million, Dureza said.
Dureza said negotiations are still ongoing between Ekran Berhad officials and the concerned national government agencies since the waiver of the principal RPT is no longer under the jurisdiction of the local government unit.
Ekran Berhad has proposed to fund the construction of the four-kilometer road which will connect the resort to Poblacion Kaputian to the tune of P60 million provided the amount will serve as payment for the property’s RPT in the future.
Dureza however said, Congressman Anton Lagdameo of Davao del Norte has assured to appropriate funds for the construction of the four-kilometer road.
He said President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo has tasked him upon his assumption as Presidential Adviser for Mindanao and BIMP-EAGA signing minister to focus on the reopening of the Ekrad Berhad Samal Casino Resort being the first flagship project of the Philippines and Malaysia under the BIMP-EAGA initiative in the early 1990’s.
The P1.5 billion tourism complex located on a 250 hectare was stalled with the onslaught of the Asian Financial crisis.
The four-kilometer road is part of the infrastructure package to include power supply, water system, which the national government through the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) committed to provide during the early phase of implementation of the project.
Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano in a recent interview in Davao City said DOT and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have committed to help fund the said four-kilometer construction package.
“I committed with Jess (Secretary Dureza) the moment the Malaysian investors have firm up their decision, we are recommending to come in with DPWH,” Durano said.
Durano confirmed that the matter of condoning the RPT is the subject of negotiation at present.
Dureza however expressed optimism negotiations on the matter is heading for a positive result.
“What is sure now is the commitment of Ekran Berhad to reopen the resort complex,” he said.
Ekran Berhad Sdn, is a Malaysian conglomerate that owns a chain of big hotels in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, if the reopening of the resort complex is completed, Ting is also planning to work for opening of flights between Davao and Kota Kinabalu since Ekran Berhad Sdn is a major stockholder of the Malaysian Arilines (MAS), Dureza said.
The opening of the said flights is to contribute a huge impact on Mindanao’s economy in general.
Both the reopening of the resort complex and the Davao-Kota Kinabalu flights are seen to generate direct and indirect jobs from the resort complex’s refurbishing and reconstruction, he said.