Sign of confidence in Tacloban: Opening of SM store
TACLOBAN CITY—A branch of a popular chain of grocery stores has opened here, raising optimism that the city is well on its way to recovery following the devastation brought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
The opening of a Savemore branch by SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) is an indication that the city didn’t lose its competitiveness despite Yolanda, according to SMPHI president Hans Sy.
“We are confident that we will do well here. We are always confident in Tacloban,” Sy said in an interview at the opening of Savemore-Tacloban, located in a four-story building on Justice Romualdez Street in downtown Tacloban City.
The construction of Savemore started early last year but its completion was delayed after Tacloban was hit by Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013.
“Tacloban [has always been] part of our plan. In fact, this is just the first step. We will be opening a real mall soon,” Sy said, but he declined to say when the construction of the shopping mall would start.
The opening of Savemore-Tacloban is SM’s first venture in Eastern Visayas.
The company invested P400 million in the construction of Savemore, which is employing 1,000 people, on a 20,000-square-meter property.
Of the 60 stalls available at Savemore, 70 percent are already occupied, Sy said.
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said he was happy that, after a year of waiting, Savemore had finally opened.
“This will provide jobs. This is good not only for Tacloban but [also] for the entire Eastern Visayas,” Romualdez said.
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the opening of Savemore would be the start of the full recovery of the city tagged the ground zero of Yolanda.
“Hopefully, more investors will be coming here to Tacloban,” he said.
Records at the city treasurer’s office showed that from January to Oct. 7, 8,130 business establishments operated in Tacloban, generating 16,295 jobs and P92 million in income for the city.
Of the number, 953 are new businesses, said Irene Chiu, chief of the city’s Business License and Permits Division.
The figures only show that Tacloban was back in business after Yolanda devastated the city on Nov. 8, 2013, she added.
“This only proves that investors still have confidence in Tacloban. After all, we are still the center for trade and commerce in Eastern Visayas,” said Chiu.
She added that more businesses operating in Tacloban would mean more employment and income for the city government, which still relied on its share on internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the national government. Tacloban’s IRA share was about P400 million.
Before Yolanda, more than 12,900 business establishments operated in Tacloban. The city government used to earn at least P400 million in business taxes and license fees.
She said they expected more establishments to come in, since the condition here was already improving.
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