Mandaue City prepares for economic integration-A A +A
Monday, November 4, 2013
MANDAUE City is preparing for the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic integration.
Mandaue City Administrator James Abadia said in an interview that the City Government is implementing several programs meant to address challenges and opportunities the integration will pose to business, human resources and the local economy.
“We are currently assessing where Mandaue is heading in terms of business development and the critical areas that need urgent response from the public sector,” said Abadia.
He said that if Mandaue fails to implement necessary reforms, manufacturing firms, considered the key economic driver of Mandaue, will lose their competitiveness among Asean peers.
The recent Local Economic Development (LED) assessment conducted for Mandaue City indicated a number of areas critical for urban competitiveness, which include investment on hard and soft infrastructure, invitation for foreign direct investments and business linkages.
Abadia said they are slowly instituting reforms to achieve urban competitiveness.
First, he said, is making Mandaue a “smarter city” and a model city, particularly in traffic management and emergency response. Second is the enactment of the updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) and the introduction of the new investment code which are projected to encourage expansion among existing manufacturing firms. The city also needs to create a business linkage program that ties up large and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), he said.
Abadia said they heeded the suggestion of the PPP Institute of Toyo University in Japan to invest on soft infrastructure or smarter tools, particularly in improving traffic management system in the city.
“The old ways of monitoring traffic is gone, what we wanted is to take the traffic management system a notch higher given the bad traffic in Mandaue. This new tool will help alleviate the traffic situation in the city,” he said.
Abadia said they already crafted terms of reference for the smart city concept, which will be bid out to interested companies. He said the smart city project will initially cover the traffic management system and emergency response units of the city but will soon include other critical areas like drainage and flooding. The proposal also covers online tax assessment and payment as well as business intelligence.
Enacting the CLUP of Mandaue City is on top of the priority projects of the City Planning and Development Office. Abadia said the CLUP is now open for public discussions and is set to be launched next year. The new investment code, on the other hand, will be released after the CLUP.
Abadia said Mandaue also wants to encourage existing manufacturing firms to expand operations in areas where there are little developments like the City South Special Economic Administrative Zone (South Point), Pagsabungan and Canduman areas. But decent and seamless road networks should be put in place, he said.
“We encourage development in these areas, because for one, Asean integration is happening soon. We need to be ready for that event,” he said.
Abadia said the South Point is drawing attention among developers and the Asean organizing committee has been sending inquiries about building designs and the international accreditation of hospitals building in that area.
“The prospects are really bright,” he said.
Aside from encouraging firms to expand, Mandaue is also looking into high-value foreign investments. Abadia said Toyo University suggested that Mandaue begin attracting manufacturing firms that are into the automotive industry, particularly electric-powered vehicles.
“We are eyeing a partnership with Toyo University so we can attract these types of investments. The university believes Mandaue has all the ingredients, it just doesn’t have the technology available,” Abadia said.
He said another drawback is the availability of a huge land area that can be converted as a separate customs territory and a Peza zone. “This can be done but we are still putting up everything together,” he said.
Linking large companies to MSMEs, on the other hand, is another key program that will boost Mandaue’s competitiveness. Incentives will be given if firms will link with one another.
“Linking all players will aid in the survival of companies during the integration. It will also help spread wealth in the local economy and growth among firms,” he said.
Abadia, however, pointed out that organizing SMEs is one big challenge for the local government, especially that those businesses with P3 million and below in capitalization already have incentives. But he believes, linking them with big players will teach them that there is room for growth.
The Philippines is bracing for tight competition with the onset of the Asean single market. Jay Yuvallos, who represents the SMEs in the Asean Business Advisory Council, said in an earlier interview they will be conducting series of roadshows to drum up awareness particularly among the SME sector.
The pillars of the Asean integration include the free flow of goods, investment, services, capital and people; competitiveness in the region; and the integration in the global supply chain.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 05, 2013.