More economic zones needed in Davao City – biz leader

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Jan) – The newly elected president of Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) wants more economic zones in the city to attract foreign investors.

DCCCII president Arturo Milan said in an interview Wednesday that a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-accredited area is what most of the investors look for in a location because it provides them a ready site and ease of setting up a business.

Milan is optimistic that the economic growth will be sustained in 2018.

Davao City’s skyline from Jack’s Ridge at Shrine Hills, Matina on September 9. 2017/ MIndaNews file photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

An economic zone is already a “complete package” and investors will no longer have to go through the “hassle of looking for a place” to set up their operations and apply for business permits, he said.

Last Tuesday, Milan said he and PEZA director general Charito B. Plaza had asked the City Council here to find a government-owned property that can be converted into an economic zone.

Second District councilor Jimmy Dureza was then put to task to look for a location, according to Milan.

Milan said that Davao is competing with neighboring countries that also have economic zones. If the city would not address the apparent lack of PEZA-accredited zones, he said, “wag na lang (never mind) because definitely they will not come.”

“This is the kind of offering that we want to have – very clear and specific offerings to would-be investors – so that they can evaluate in real terms whether our offering is competitive,” he said.

Milan said the chamber could only do so much in terms of entertaining investors.

As of October 31, 2017, the city has 14 PEZA-accredited areas – 1 manufacturing, 2 agro-industrial zones, and 11 information technology centers and IT parks.

The PEZA-accredited manufacturing area is the First Oriental Business and Industrial Park while the agro-industrial zones are AJMR Agro-Industrial Economic Zone and CIIF Agro-Industrial Park-Davao.

Aside from the NCCC Mall Davao’s IT Center on the fourth floor that was part of those razed down by fire last Dec. 23, the other IT Parks and centers are Luisa Avenue Square IT Center, Robinsons Cybergate Davao, Felcris Centrale, SM Lanang Premier IT Center, Abreeza Corporate Center, Ayala Business Center, Filandia IT Center, The Annex-SM City Davao IT Center, Damosa IT Park, and Matina IT Park.

A PEZA-accredited area enjoys fiscal (income tax holidays for four to six years) and non-fiscal incentives.

Non-fiscal incentives include simplified import-export procedures; non-resident foreign nationals may be employed by PEZA-registered Economic Zone Enterprises in supervisory, technical or advisory positions; and special non-immigrant visa with multiple entry privileges for non-resident foreign nationals in a PEZA-registered Economic Zone Enterprise that include investors, officers, and employees in supervisory, technical or advisory position, and their spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age.

Davao City Investment Promotions Center (DCIPC) chief Lemuel Ortonio said the declaration of martial law in Mindanao did not put a dent on the investment climate here.

Records from DCIPC showed that investments that entered the city after the May 23 declaration of martial law in Mindanao totaled P493.14 million coming from real estate and agri-industrial projects, which was twice higher compared with the total capitalization worth P230.83 million recorded for the entire 2016.

“The peace and order situation of Davao City, in relation to Martial Law, is always one of the questions asked by potential investors. However, our office always make it a point to provide them with a clear picture on how Martial Law is being implemented,” he said.

“For one, Davao City is far from where Marawi City is located. Also, how the national government implemented martial law is far from being abusive. We make sure that we tell them that the peace and order programs in the city ensure the safety of the residents and visitors,” he added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)