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Chamber forum with new city officials a success

Ormoc City – “Ormoc is going and gearing towards being at par with Cebu, Davao and General Santos”, Atty. Irene Resurrecion, City Administrator, said during the 3rd Quarterly Business Forum of the Ormoc City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (OCCCI), held on Tuesday, July 30, at Ormoc Villa Hotel. This year’s chamber president is Iñigo Larrazabal. 

Atty. Resurreccion represented Mayor Edward Codilla. Also present were vice mayor Leo Carmelo “Toto” Locsin Jr. and councilors Roland Villasencio, Tommy Serafica, Mayong Rodriguez, Bennet Pongos Jr., Engr. Godie Ebcas and city licensing officer Emil Tingson.

Business Climate in Ormoc City

Local officials told the chamber they are optimistic that with hard work from all sectors, Ormoc will be the center of business and investments in Eastern Visayas in the next few years.

“Our economy is booming and we have enough resources”, said Ebcas. He added that ““Economic growth is relevant to or a product of a dense population and electricity resource. Population-wise, we are almost 200,000 at the population growth rate of 1.7 percent.  I think we will be more than 200,000 next year.  The population in Ormoc is growing because of the job opportunities that people have.  Moreover, the city has enough resources. We have population, basic amenities like water, infrastructure, airport and power.”

Fiscal and Non-fiscal incentives

Councilor Rodriguez, a doctor and a businessman himself, said the city could also provide fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. “The non-fiscal incentives that we can offer to the investors are important to them such as land availability, supporting infrastructures, utilities, water, electricity and skilled labor. Fortunately, most of these are present in the city”, he said. He noted however, that land is expensive in Ormoc, discouraging investors.

In terms of the fiscal incentives, Emilio Tingson, City Licensing officer, said that “Fiscal incentives, we talk here about the payment of taxes. Investors, if they will avail the incentive code, will not pay regulatory fees and taxes are free for four to six years and the legislation fees will depend on the total investment that the investor will be putting in”.

Ormoc already had an Investment Incentive Code passed in 2000 yet. It’s IRR was finished in 2001 but it was never implemented in the years that followed. “No one could avail of the incentives because the board was never convened actually since that time up to the present. But I already asked (new) Mayor (Edward) Codilla to open the board but when we reread the code, it needed several amendments and it even needs to be updated as it was already 10 years old”, TIngson said.

He said that with the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Code’s recommended amendments were drafted by the late Dr. Gumarao. He said since the city had no funds to pay for the consultant, they sought DTI assistance. The consultant’s fee was P 70,000.00.

As of the moment, the board is still to be convened and would have to deliberate on the matter so it can be implemented as soon as the necessary revisions have been made.

Ormoc Airport and Port of Ormoc

“We will have flights in Ormoc and that is coming soon”, Atty. Resurrecion announced during the forum. The Office of the City Mayor, according to her, had informal talks over the phone already on how Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines would once again fly to Ormoc. “Tita Violy (the mayor’s wife) will also be taking businessmen on tours here in Ormoc” so they can appreciate the city.

The Ormoc Airport, however, is not fully functional yet because there are many repairs to be done. “The runway is not in accordance with international standards … Legal, technical engineering has to be done”, Atty. Ressurecion said.

The Port of Ormoc, on the other hand, has an on-going expansion already. “This is funded by the Philippine Port Authority and through the efforts of the Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez with a budget of 100 million pesos for Phase 1”, Councilor Rolando Villasencio said.

Traffic Situation in the City

Aside from the large volume of tricycles plying the city streets, Atty. Resurreccion said they are still trying to get to the root of the problem. She noted that “The bus terminal is being flocked by selling ukay-ukay. I have observed that many of them are occupying the sidestreets”, she said, aside from violating a verbal agreement with the previous administration that vendors only start selling used clothing and shoes at the jeepney terminal after five o’clock. She said some start as early as 3:00 PM.

The City Administrator, however, asked more time from the chamber for them to work. “We can provide long term solutions after we identify the root cause of the problem”.

The Future of Business Sector in Ormoc

“Few weeks ago, a small player in the fuel industry had a formal presentation. This company is thinking to put up a fuel storage facility in Ormoc. Also, Starbucks, Bo’s Café and Seattle’s Best Coffee has extended that they could come here but not on a franchise but the Mayor does not want their business to affect local businesses. So probably on the coming days, an open forum regarding that will be held before nyang i-go po ‘yun”, Atty. Ressurecion informed.

City should not be the biggest employer

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Toto Locsin Jr. was also asked about the plans of the 13th Sangguniang Panglungsod to help the business here in Ormoc.

He said that they are ready to back up the mayor’s good programs for the city with needed legislation. “We envision a progressive, peaceful and drug-free Ormoc.”, he said, adding that he would also want to see “na dili ang city hall ang pinakadako nga employer sa Ormoc.”

He said that as of the moment, they as local government officials of Ormoc, are still addressing the problems palpable in the city like widespread poverty, high crime incidence and drugs. “After we solve the problems, nganha ra nato makita ang pagsulod sa investments and tourists here in Ormoc”, Vice Mayor Locsin further said. “We need investors and large businesses here in Ormoc because most people commit crimes due to lack of job opportunities”, he said.

All local officials present during the forum expressed their affirmation to work hand-in-hand with each other together with the private sector, to uplift the business climate and general well-being of all Ormocanons.

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