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Thursday, June 24, 2021
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Labella, business groups express optimism for 2021

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THE purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and the establishment of Cebu City’s first community college are in Mayor Edgardo Labella’s bucket list for 2021.

Labella is bullish about 2021, saying it will be a year of recovery for the city and businesses beset by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The City included in the 2021 budget around P300 million earmarked for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines. If the need for an additional budget arises for the vaccine acquisition, a supplemental budget must be passed, Labella said.

The first-term local executive believes the confidence level of the business community and the public will go up if a vaccine is already available in the city and a targeted demographic is already inoculated.

“I hope the vaccine will be made available so everything will go back to normal,” Labella said.

Hopeful, vigilant

For the business community, remaining hopeful and vigilant go hand in hand as enterprises greet the new year with subdued fervor.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Felix Taguiam said 2020 was a challenging year for everyone.

“Let’s start 2021 with a ray of hope and a Covid-free environment. We all have to start rebuilding what we lost and we have to rebuild consumer confidence and spending to alleviate (the plight of) our micro, small and medium enterprises, which is the backbone of our economy,” he said.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said they expect the year 2021 to start with a steady first quarter as nations figure out the new virus strain, which he saw as a “minor hiccup” as “vaccines will still cover its implications.”

“For Cebu, the Sinulog festivities, hybrid they may be, will still usher in the mood for celebration among the Cebuanos. With a P25 million budget, it is expected to stage a good overall presentation and package. The Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day celebrations will be muted and celebrated sparsely,” he said.

Entrepreneurs, said Filipino-Cebuano Business Club chairman Rey Calooy, “must not be afraid of the unknown.”

He further said: “We are all adventurers in the year ahead, and we seldom fear any hardship or difficulties.”

Labella’s other targets

At the Cebu City Hall, several projects for 2020 were not realized as they took a backseat because of the pandemic; one of these was the proposed establishment of the Cebu City College (CCC).

Labella vowed to work for the realization of CCC this year.

The proposed ordinance for the creation of CCC, authored by City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, has been sitting in the City Council for almost a year now.

The City Council made some modifications as there was already an approved ordinance in 2012 for the creation of a city college. The legislation was authored by City Councilor Joy Augustus Young.

The CCC, once finalized, will offer four-year programs on solid waste management, flood control, traffic systems, environmental management, water systems, nutrition science, hospital administration and nursing.

It will also offer two-year programs on caregiving, welding, the hotel and service industry, sustainable farming and robotics.

New CCMC building

To address public health concerns, Labella said more departments of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) are set to be opened in 2021.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Labella said he was glad that the new CCMC building was able to partially open and operate its outpatient department on Dec. 28, 2020.

Labella said more departments will be opened.

These are the emergency department and the imaging department that conducts digital x-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); delivery and operating rooms; and a few wards.

Labella said the imaging department will be opened next to the outpatient department so Cebu City residents do not need to go to other clinics and hospitals.

Improving tax collection

For this year, Labella said a tax mapping has to be made as it can help correct the tax collection of the City.

Labella said there were some establishments that had been registered as residential units, but they were later converted into condominiums. He said these properties must be traced for proper tax collection.

“There is no need to increase the tax payment. We only need to have proper tax collection,” he said.

Helping business sector

Labella said the drivers of the City’s economy, the business community, will also be focused on.

He hoped that in 2021, the business concierge, which is in partnership with CCCI, will be in full operation.

The Cebu Investment Development Concierge Center is a one-stop trade and investment center for businesses and investors interested in locating and investing in the City and Province of Cebu and is a flagship Public-Private

Partnership

Labella said both the City and CCCI had started to develop and disseminate information on it to the foreign investors. But the project was paused because of the pandemic.

Cebu City, being the business hub and gateway in Central Visayas, has to bring its investment climate back to normal again, Labella said.

Maintaining services

Despite the pandemic, Labella was glad that the City was still able to implement and maintain some of its services.

The pandemic, he said, made the City Government innovative like how it did with the financial assistance distribution for the persons with disability (PWDs) and senior citizens.

The City opted to distribute the cash aid to the houses of the beneficiaries, and it is now on its way to using cash cards.

The City also implemented radio-based learning to answer the concern of some parents who are having a hard time teaching their children in distance learning.

The other programs and projects the City was able to implement in 2020 include the maintenance of parks and playgrounds and comprehensive garbage collection; brightened lamp posts with the use of LED lights and repair on damaged roads; construction of school buildings and medium-rise buildings, and conduct of river cleanup activities.

Labella’s hope

For 2021, Labella hoped that the city will be able to maintain its community quarantine status and its inclusion in areas considered as low risk.

Cebu City is under modified general community quarantine until the end of January. / WITH JOB


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