If you want to get more investors, the way to do it is to lower cost to operate like lower power cost, improve infrastructure and reduce or eliminate bureaucracy.”
Joel Mari Yu, Cebu Investments and Promotions Center managing director, gave these suggestions on how to attract more investors to Cebu when asked about the possibility of reviving the proposal on a Cebu-wide economic zone.
Yu said that Cebu had already been attracting a lot of investments even without the bill passed into law, which only proved that it was not needed.
“We are already seeing a lot of investments. This year we saw manufacturing companies start opening like Knowles Electronics (Philippines) which opened in CLIP (Cebu Light Industrial Park) in November. We are expecting more manufacturing companies coming as well as more from the outsourcing industry,” said Yu during yesterday’s interview at his Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino office.
In 2007, the concept was initiated by then Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Francis Monera and got full support from Gov. Gwen Garcia and several Cebu congressmen including then Rep. Raul del Mar who sponsored the Economic Development Zone Act of 2009 or House Bill 1319.
The bill underwent several readings with many businessmen, government officials and the German Agency for Technical Cooperation already expressing their support.
In 2010, however, then CCCI president Consul Samuel Chioson announced that they would have to put the proposal on “status quo” as they would need to make some revisions in the bill after then newly appointed Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said his department would not support creation of new economic zones in the country.
In a recent interview with new CCCI president Prudencio Gesta, he said that the Bill remained on “status quo” until the review committee would finish all the revisions that would reconcile with the new policies in the new administration.
NOT WAY TO GO
Yu, however, pointed out that creating a law that would declare a certain province was not the way to get more investors to come especially in a place like Cebu, which was already an attractive investment destination for foreign direct investors specifically in the manufacturing and outsourcing industries that would benefit from the incentives given to locators in an economic zone.
“That has never been done in the country. The chances of its approval are very low,” said Yu adding that it’s not a question of viability.
If approved, however, Yu said that Cebu would become a risk to the country as it could become a gateway for illegal operations like smuggling of goods through Cebu because one could simply put up a plant anywhere in Cebu that is difficult to monitor and smuggle goods into Cebu then sell them to other areas in the country.
While most of Cebu’s existing economic zones were already full, Yu said that it would be easier to look for a place at least five hectares in land size and have it declared as an economic zone which would be easier to manage, monitor and police.