Malaybalay mayor declines Gaisano Mall’s wet market

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 August) – The city government cannot allow Gaisano Mall to operate a wet market to the detriment of the meat vendors in the city’s public market, Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri said.

Zubiri told MindaNews Tuesday he declined recently the mall operator’s application to operate a wet market.

He added that the mall has to apply for a permit separately to operate a wet market just like local meat operators who run wet markets. He recognized that his decision benefits local wet market operators.

“But the most affected will be the meat stall owners in our own public,” he added. The Gaisano Malaybalay management said they respect the decision of the mayor.

But Jo Ellaine Ducot, mall manager, told this reporter via telephone they will appeal the mayor’s decision. She cited that a meeting between top management and the mayor is being arranged, which the mayor confirmed in a separate interview.

But no date has been set yet. Zubiri said in the interview that his decision is final.

Ducot stressed that all Gaisano malls have a wet market as part of its sections.

She added that their wet market will not be detrimental to local meat vendors as they cater to different target markets.

“Competition will be good to the business,” she added.

When he was still vice mayor, Zubiri lamented the investment incentives given to him by the city government through a special ordinance. Zubiri said in March 2009 that a portion of it was unfair and must be taken out.

Zubiri lamented at the City Council session that the business tax incentives provided business locators inside the mall are unfair to those who rent outside.

But city councilor Victor Aldeguer, now vice mayor, said Zubiri’s manifestation was a suggestion “but there would likely be no amendments to the incentives ordinance.”

There was a move to amend City Ordinance 637 Series of 2008, which embodied the city’s offered incentives to Gaisano and Sons, Inc. and companies intending to rent in the mall.

The ordinance was approved in July 2008. The construction of the P500-million, four-story mall in downtown Malaybalay is ongoing. The mall has opened most of its sections this year.

The ordinance, among other things, exempts the firm from paying for the next five years the amusement tax and basic real property tax, asking them to pay only for the Special Education Fund.

For locators, the ordinance exempts them from paying business tax on their first year of operation and subsequent 25-percent increase in imposition every year after until full implementation on the sixth year.

But the incentives are offered only to locators with capitalization of at least P500,000, according to Section 3 of the ordinance.

Aldeguer said the same incentives cannot be offered to locators outside the proposed mall because their investments are not as big as that of the Gaisanos.

Then Mayor Florencio T. Flores Jr., now Bukidnon second district representative, was critical of the proposed review, saying it would put a question mark on the integrity and credibility of the city to investors. He cited that the mall’s investment is biggest to date in the city, just enough to merit commensurate incentives. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)