GenSan expects more investments; cites favorable survey by WB

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government here is bracing for the influx of major trade and investment ventures in the city after it emerged as the country’s “most business-friendly city” based on a recent survey commissioned by World Bank affiliate International Finance Corporation (IFC).

City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said Friday they expect more investors and companies to take another look at the city as a viable area for various key investments and business expansions as a result of the survey.

“It affirmed that we’re one of the best destinations for major investments right now. By coming here, prospective investors are not only assured of a viable market but an environment that is easy to do business in,” she said.

According to the survey, which was conducted by the Asian Institute of Management’s Policy Center, it only takes 17 procedures and 22 days to set up a business in the city as compared to the national average of 18 procedures and 33 days.

“New firms are created and job opportunities multiply when starting a business is made easier. Research shows that when registration becomes faster and costs are cut, more firms enter the market,” it said.

The study, dubbed “Doing Business in the Philippines 2011,” focused on the implementation of various procedures in business regulations in at least 25 cities in the country.

It was supported by the Canadian International Development Agency, United States Agency for International Development, Australian Agency for International Development and the Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group.

The city government earlier adopted major reforms in its policies regarding the renewal and application of business permits in the city.

As part of the reforms, it adopted the “one-stop shop” system to streamline the procedures and significantly reduce the processing time in the renewal and application of business permits.

Every January, the local government gathers all agencies and offices involved in the renewal of business permits into a single venue to expedite their processing.

Aside from these, Custodio said the local government has set in place various incentives for new businesses or investors in key industries in the area.

As provided for under the city’s amended investment code, prospective investors may avail of exemption from payment of business sales taxes and various fees such as those for building permit, mayor’s permit and other charges for land and building improvements.

Among the major ventures that had availed of these incentives were the Gokongwei-owned Robinsons shopping mall and the newly-opened Sun City Suites.

SM Prime Holdings of mall tycoon Henry Sy is also slated to avail of various incentives from the city government for its SM mall branch in the city that is expected to open by next year.

“We’re continually reforming our policies to help further develop a more vibrant business climate and sustain our gains in terms of new investments these past years,” Custodio said.

She added the local government will continue to look for solutions to various problems confronting the local business sector, especially in terms of peace and security. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)