Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority

SBMA earnings dip by 22% during COVID-19 pandemic

Randy V. Datu
SBMA earnings dip by 22% during COVID-19 pandemic

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma meets with members of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce on February 3.

randy v. datu/rappler

The economic downturn caused by the ravages of the coronavirus bites off nearly a quarter from the annual earnings of the country's premier freeport

The earnings of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in 2020 decreased by as much as 22% because of the economic slowdown brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the Subic agency earned a total of P1.69-billion before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) at the end of 2020. In 2019, SBMA raked in P2.17 billion.

The 2020 figure was lower than those of 2019 by P486.73 million, or 22.35%.

Eisma said the COVID-19 pandemic affected not only the operations of business locators in the Subic Bay Freeport, but also those of the SBMA, which is a self-sustaining government-owned agency.

“Subic locked down for close to 4 months early last year because of COVID-19. That means factories were closed, stores were closed, and there was not much source of income to go around. Moreover, the SBMA was forced to forego much of its collections in the meantime, because there was hardly anything to collect,” Eisma said.

She added the economic downturn “critically diminished the income-generating capacity of registered businesses and sent ripples of disruption across the freeport that affected even the SBMA income.”

According to the 2020 consolidated year-end report from the SBMA Finance Group, the agency lost P530.31 million in operating revenue last year. In 2019 it collected a total of P3.73 billion.

In terms of operating expenses, meanwhile, the agency was able to save P67.74 million in 2020, as it spent only P1.45 billion, which was 4.45% lower than its expenses of P1.52 billionin 2019.

The SBMA Finance Group also reported that the agency’s operating income in 2020 hit only P1.75 billion, which was 20.93% lower than the P2.21 billion in 2019 – a difference of P462.56 million.

On the other hand, the agency was burdened by higher bad debts last year— from P32.09 million in 2019 to P56.26 million in 2020, or an increase of 75.3%.

Eisma said the agency expects its finances to somehow bounce back this year, as more freeport firms increase operations under strict health safety protocols imposed by the COVID-19 task force (IATF).

Last month, the SBMA approved the Economic Relief Assistance (ERA) Payment Scheme that gave Subic locators up to 36 months to amortize bills that remained unpaid since the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Eisma said the measure was intended to help Subic businesses get back on their feet.

“We are now trying to open up the economy here little by little to curtail the lingering impact of the pandemic, and we’re giving every opportunity for our locators to normalize operations,” Eisma said.

“I am wishing for bigger (financial) numbers this year, and we are getting back on track every little step that we can take forward. That’s why we always stress that we maintain safety protocols so we can get more industry sectors up and running,” Eisma said.

The SBMA chief is scheduled to give her State of the Freeport Address next month to provide a more comprehensive report on the 2020 accomplishments of the agency and its plans for this year. – Rappler.com