WITH a budget of P5 million from the Office of the Governor, the newly-created Cebu Province Investment and Incentive Center aims to create its own database and facilitate an investment process within the year to make the province more attractive to foreign and local investors.
Provincial Investment and Promotions Officer Benjamin Joseph Yap admitted that data gathering has been their biggest challenge, saying most of what is available is at the regional level and what they can gather is sometimes outdated.
He said they want to have an updated factbook on Cebu Province that they can use to when promoting areas as locations for investment. The data will be used in creating an investment and promotions website that caters specially to investors.
Yap and his team of three also want to establish a one-stop shop for foreign and domestic investors, who may be interested but unaware about the investment climate of Cebu.
Currently, they are working on identifying the economic sites in the province and knowing the characteristics of these sites.
They are now working with government agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Board of Investments, other regulatory agencies and private organizations like the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry to complete their database and establish their one-stop shop.
He admitted that since staff from government agencies are limited, they might not be physically present at the one-stop shop. But having established connections with the concerned government agencies, Yap said the process could still be easier for investors, as they could help facilitate the necessary paperwork.
With a little over a year to establish these within Gov. Hilario Davide III’s term, a concern was raised about what happens to the center after elections. Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino assured that efforts will not be wasted, should another administration take over in 2016, as the center’s creation is covered by an ordinance passed in 2013, which means it has been institutionalized. He added that the creation of the office is “a necessary action” for Cebu Province, as it has been created in response to the request of the local business community, from sentiments of potential foreign investors.
While they are eyeing different sectors for Cebu, Yap said they are starting on tourism investments. He believes efforts to promote tourism in the countryside is not enough and that Cebu can get more out of the tourists who visit with what it has to offer.
“Cebu is mainly tourism. We are under-utilizing our tourism agencies. Compared to other places, we have a lot (to offer) but we are not marketing it correctly or not marketing it enough,” Yap said.
The Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development, a project funded by the Canadian Government and implemented in coordination with the DILG, intends to create three tourism circuits in Northern Cebu to spur economic development in areas badly affected by super typhoon Yolanda.
One circuit is for Bogo, Medellin and San Remigio while the second one is for Daanbantayan and Malapascua Island. The third is for the three towns comprising Bantayan Island. The project aims to create 200 new jobs by 2016, P223.6 million in hotel, resort, restaurant and infrastructure investments and an additional 178,385 annual tourist arrivals.
Yap said that if they are successful, they will replicate the program the southern part of Cebu and integrate it into their tourism plans for the province.
He said one only has to look at the town of Balamban to see how investors have made an impact on the local economy. He is hopeful they can do the same in other parts of the province.