Bioethanol investments to grow to $770M

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LOCAL and foreign direct investment in bioethanol fuel is projected to grow to $770 million in 2016.

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The National Bioethanol Board (NBB) on Bioethanol Concerns and the administrator of the Philippine Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) made the assumption on Tuesday based on recent data.

SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin on Tuesday said the local and foreign direct investments have grown from around $206 million in 2012 to $386 million in 2015.

The future of bioethanol fuel in the country burns brighter than ever, said Bautista-Martin, who is also the NBB vice chairperson.

“When the policy guidelines on the utilization of locally-produced bioethanol were passed in 2011, bioethanol investments in the Philippines were reinvigorated,” Bautista-Martin told participants to the Ethanol and Biofuels Asia 2015 conference.

In her presentation on the past, present, and future of the bioethanol industry in the Philippines, Bautista-Martin explained that the annual investments in the working capital for bioethanol operations have sustained the dynamism of the rural economy where a bioethanol plant is located.

“Jobs are sustained, upstream and downstream small scale enterprises have emerged, giving new livelihood opportunities for the local community surrounding the bioethanol plant,” she said.

Workers and their families received the annual benefits through a social amelioration and welfare program, which is on top of other statutory benefits for workers under the Labor Code of the Philippines, the SRA official noted.

“The Biofuels Law was enacted in the latter part of 2006 – that became effective in 2007. But the 5-percent and 10-percent bioethanol mandates were implemented in 2009 and 2011… to give enough time for bioethanol investors to consolidate their feedstock areas and construct the bioethanol plant,” she said.

When the law was passed, several investors lined up to invest in the production and development of sugarcane plantations as sources of feedstock.

Martin, however, noted that despite the way the early years of implementation ushered in some negative impact on the industry that discouraged some investors, others remained optimistic and keen on pursuing the business.

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