Negrenses mourn loss of Ayala's investment-A A +A
Monday, September 17, 2012
THE Negrenses will start the mourning today, Monday, for the loss of a golden opportunity that should have been provided by Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) in its plan to pour in P6 billion investments to Bacolod City by leasing and purchasing the P7.7-hectare property of the Provincial Government.
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Negros Occidental (HRANO), along with the Philippine Constructors Association of Negros (PCAN), will light a candle at the steps of the provincial capitol building at 6 p.m. tonight, Monday, as they mourn the pull out of ALI from its deal with the Provincial Government.
"This translates not only to loss of jobs and business opportunities to thousands of Negrenses but also a setback in our efforts to make Negros and Bacolod a major tourism destination," HRANO said in a statement.
PCAN has 8,000 workers and family dependents and they also feel the big loss with ALI's withdrawal from the Capitol deal.
On the other hand, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia believes that Bacolod can always bounce back.
"Investments will keep coming back to Bacolod because it is a magnet. It has its potential that made it attractive to investors. It is validated. Our business environment is good. We are business-friendly and Bacolod is already in the investment map in the country," he said.
One of basic intentions of my administration is to maintain an environment that is conducive for business to grow. We are committed to that, thus we prepare our people for the rapid growth and prosperity, he added.
According to the mayor, some people claim that, in terms of the BPO industry, Bacolod is already congested. However, he pointed out that Panasiatic has just announced it will hire 1,000 call center agents.
For his part, Bacolod Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson said the Ayala investment should have been a big boost to the local economy.
"(The withdrawal) is their prerogative and we cannot do something about it. Hopefully, in the near future, a new bidding will be made again on the said property. There is an effect, as money should have circulated in the city. I believe another company will come in," he said.
Councilor Sonya Verdeflor said she will join HRANO and PCAN in lighting candles Monday to express a loss of a golden opportunity.
"The said deal could have generated thousands of jobs, investments and tourism opportunities that will benefit all of us," she said.
Businessman Vladimir Gonzalez said the withdrawal of Ayala in the deal is not a welcome development. It could have been an opportunity for Bacolod and Negros as a whole that will firm up the local economy.
"It is fresh money that will come here. If they will invest P6 billion, normally, 30 percent of which will go to construction industry and 30-40 percent will go to salaries and wages. It only shows that around P2 billion of fresh money that will circulate in the city could have helped families that have no or lack income and it will trickle down to the education of the children and food for every family if it pushed through," said Gonzales.
Everybody knows that it is more of politics also especially now that it is election season. It is sad because such opportunity is rare. This would be a lesson that politics should not interfere in the affairs of the business, he added.
According to Gonzales, the role of government is supposed to facilitate the needs of businessmen. That is the roadmap that he was saying that, unfortunately, Bacolod never had.
"It is sad but I hope that other giant mall operators like SM can hopefully come up with a better proposal. It could boost up the real estate and property sectors, including tax generation. Many businesses can be triggered out of that investment," he added.
For now, Ayala has an ongoing project in Talisay. The company has a mixed use commercial area and mall call center worth P870 million. It is a sad shift of direction, as the progress is going north. The airport now is in Silay City and other developments are already in Talisay.
"This is a wake-up call for all of us. If opportunity comes in Bacolod, you have to grab it. But losing Ayala is a lesson learned," he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 17, 2012.