By Danny O. Calleja
LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) – A modern commercial complex designed to support the local tourism industry will soon be constructed in Virac, the capital town of Catanduanes.
Its construction will be funded by a Php200-million loan that the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has recently granted the municipal government on agreement that all the latter’s revenue earnings, including its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) from the national government, will be assigned in favor of the former as a guarantee of repayment.
Virac town mayor Flerida Alberto and DBP-Bicol Regional Marketing Center Senior Manager Ariel Peña based in Naga City signed the term loan agreement early this month to become the largest ever loan facility entered into by a municipal government of Catanduanes province.
A statement from the office of the municipal mayor reaching the Philippine News Agency here Friday said the proposed commercial complex, which will include an integrated land transport terminal and a public market, will be constructed within a prime three-hectare site recently bought by the local government for Php25.8 million from its private owner.
In the statement, Alberto said, the complex will be so far than most modern commercial facility in the island-province in support to the booming local tourism industry.
Catanduanes is a promising travel destination owing to its ecotourism wonders, dive sites and sea surfing venues along its long string of palm-fringed beaches backed by jungle-covered mountains and crowned with jewel-like islets.
The province, — a virtually untouched, unspoiled and unexplored pearly island in the Pacific — offers a totally laid-back rural charm, a beautiful natural environment and plenty of easy action at a pace that’s always relaxed.
For these, the province has been included by the Department of Tourism (DOT) in its newly-formed “Triple C” cluster, a local tourism industry development alliance called “Gems of the Pacific” for its geographical location which is along the rim of the Pacific Ocean.
The alliance involves the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes which the DOT regional office based here has identified as another tourism development area (TDA) in the region included in its 2011-2016 National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).
There are two sub-TDAs under this cluster — the Caramoan-Catanduanes Tourism Link (CCTL) covering the tourism town of Caramoan, Camarines Sur and the entire Catanduanes area; and the Camarines Tourism Circuit (CTC) to cover the rest of Camarines Sur and the whole of Camarines Norte.
For the CCTL, Caramoan, which lies at the northeastern tip of Camarines Sur separated by Maqueda Channel from Catanduanes, covers Caramoan Peninsula where a group of exotic islets serving as a major ecotourism destination sits.
“We never want to be left behind insofar as tourism development is concerned and this new commercial complex that we are putting in place will offer a state-of-the-art facility that will offer tourists a convenient shopping and transportation hub,” Alberto said.
And since Virac is the center of trade, commerce and transportation of the province, she said, the proposed complex is designed to house an integrated transport terminal and a modern public market.
As to the loan repayment capability of the Virac local government, the lady mayor said “nothing to worry about” since the project is self-liquidating beside the fact the municipality, being classified as first class by the Department of Finance (DoF), has sufficient income to ensure the availability of fund.
The municipal government has an average annual income of some Php130 million that includes its average yearly IRA receipts of around Php95 million.
Last year, she said, the town government’s total revenue was placed at some Php131 million, of which around Php35 million came from local collections such as taxes, business permits and licenses and business and services income while total expenditures was at a total of around Php105 million for a net proceeds of Php25 million.
The Php200-million DBP loan, Alberto said, has a 15-year repayment period with interest fixed for three years, to be reviewed after three years following the initial release and every three years thereafter.
The interest will be initially based on the DBP’s prevailing rate on the date of the initial release which shall not be lower than 4.25 percent per annum and subject to the aforesaid three-year adjustments.
The repayment, Alberto said, is divided into 144 equal monthly principal payments to commence at the end of the 37th month from the date of initial drawdown.
A separate agreement providing for the continuing assignment in favor of DBP of the local government’s monthly IRA receipts and other local revenues to the extent of the total amount due and payable under the loan agreement has also been signed between the bank and the town government.
The deal contains the condition that the Virac government maintains DBP as its official depository of all funds including IRA until the loan is fully paid, maintaining an average daily balance equivalent to at least three percent of the outstanding loan balance.
It also allows DBP to hold-out on its deposits equivalent to three monthly amortizations on the loan until fully paid, and authorize the bank to automatically deduct from the local government’s deposit account the amortizations and other bank charges when due to ensure prompt payment and secure the loan’s full payment, according to Alberto. (PNA)