Cebu investment concierge to operate in early January

Carlo Lorenciana

AFTER the Cebu City Government approved the two-year validity for business permits, the planned Cebu Investment Concierge Center may become operational early next year.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Virgilio Espeleta said the investment center will probably be realized by January 2020.

“Hopefully by January,” the business leader said when asked about the timeline for the investment office that will soon help prospective investors eyeing Cebu for their expansion and entry plans.

He said the investment center will be key to make doing business in Cebu more attractive.

Efforts to make starting a business in Cebu easier are a work in progress, and extending the validity of business permits is a good start.

Espeleta said Cebu still has more work to be done to create an environment more conducive to business growth.

Earlier, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said his office would draft an executive order for the creation of a public-private-led investment center, set to be located within the CCCI building.

PwC survey

In a recent PwC Philippines survey, government regulations and corruption, high utility costs and lack of quality infrastructure topped the key obstacles faced by business owners in Cebu.

The business sector was hoping such survey will drum up dialogue between the public and private sectors and ultimately lead to reforms and more progressive policies to drive Cebu’s competitiveness.

Based on the survey, Cebuano businesses have identified linkages, ease of doing business and access to credit as among main enablers for growth.

Espeleta said both public and private sectors must work together to push for reforms to reboot and enable a vibrant business environment in Cebu.

Espeleta noted that competitiveness must be a shared ambition for both the government and private sectors.

According to the World Bank, government regulations can either restrict or facilitate success of business operations and directly impact a country or city’s overall competitiveness.

Bureaucracy and lack of transparency were cited as subsets of a difficult regulation, together with the unreasonably high number of steps or procedures for business permits and compliance.

The CCCI eyed a five-point agenda to raise Cebu’s competitiveness.

These are the creation of the Cebu Investment Concierge Center, establishment of Anti-Red Tape Authority collaboration desk, streamlining and digitizing the business permit and licensing system, expanding incentives and aid for SMEs and startups and creation of Cebu Business Advisory Council.