SM City Cebu opens center for gov’t services

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Sunday, May 4, 2014


AROUND 80,000 Filipino seafarers are known to be working with EU-flagged ships. THE long queues and uncomfortable waiting areas tick most people off when doing government transactions. A mall chain is offering a better solution by opening up over 300 square meters of space dedicated to basic services from selected government agencies.

SM City Cebu, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry-Cebu formally opened last Friday the Government Service Express at the second floor in a bid to bring government services “closer to the public.”

Regional operations manager for SM Supermalls Sherry Tuvilla said it took them nine years to work on the concept. It started out as a kiosk along the hallways of the mall until they worked out an arrangement with some government offices to offer services at the mall.

DTI-Cebu Consumer Welfare Division Head Zaide Bation said this arrangement decongests government offices and makes it convenient for people to transact with the government because they can do many things at the mall.

While it is not new for government offices like the Land Transportation Office, National Bureau of Investigation and Department of Foreign Affairs to open branches at the malls, Tuvilla said it is the first time that several agencies will be in one area offering full services at the mall.

She revealed that other SM Supermalls are studying the concept so they can replicate it in their respective areas.

Because the space also houses a business center, payments can also be accepted to complete the government transactions.

Tuvilla assured that the agencies will be offering full services, including ID processing. For now, the center has counters for Philhealth, Social Security System, Home Mutual Development Fund (Pagibig), Philippine Postal Corp., National Statistics Office and Philippine Regulatory Commission.

The DTI-Cebu hopes to open their own counter at the center for business name registration but is still looking for personnel to work on the counters. Tuvilla said they are also working on getting the NBI and DFA to offer their services at the Government Service Express.

They are also working on getting the agencies to serve in mall hours, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tuvilla said there is space for over 10 agencies.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and PB Member Thaddeo Ouano (Cebu, sixth district), who were present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, lauded the initiative.

Rama said he was “pleased” to hear of the concept and urged other establishments to offer similar arrangements.

“It pains me to see people going to agencies like the NBI and NSO and seeing them standing in line all the way to the streets,” he said.

Asked if Cebu City Hall would also offer services at a similar facility, Rama said he is open to it. But what he wants to see is those government agencies with very long lines to open such avenues for clients so they will not have to be uncomfortable while waiting for their turn to be served.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 05, 2014.

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