DESPITE public perception that the present local administration is not business-friendly because the chief executive is running after some business establishments that committed transgressions like non-payment of correct taxes, violation of environmental laws, etc., Cebu City’s economy is growing. Construction of high-rise buildings like condominiums are observable. Lapu-Lapu City, is also economically booming, highlighted by growth in the tourism industry in Mactan island and the constructions of hotels, resorts and condominiums.
While at present the South Road Properties (SRP) can be considered as a white elephant because several hectares of land there remain idle, in the coming years that vast area will be the hub of economic activities in Cebu City. That is, if politicians running the affairs of the city will set aside politics for the city’s economic development.
The only developed areas there are the sites of the SM Seaside Mal site, which is the subject of the chief executive’s wrath because of personal and political agenda, and Filinvest, which is into the development of high-end condominiums, restaurants and leisure parks. The chief executive has several plans for SRP’s development but all of these are still in the drawing board.
The latest prospective investor is Cebuano business tycoon John Gokongwei, who owned one of the country’s biggest business conglomerate, JG Summit Holdings Inc., that operates Robinson’s Mall and Summit Hotel in Fuente Osmeña and the new Robinson’s Galleria mall and Summit hotel and residences at the north reclamation area.
JG Summit has a good reputation and track record in its diversified businesses like real estate development, banking, power generation, airlines transportation (Cebu Pacific), petrochemical and food (Universal Robina). The company has proposed to lease the eight hectares Kawit property for 50 years. The company plans to put up a hotel, a convention center, casino and parks, among others, which cost some P18 billion.
Of course, once this materializes, this will provide job opportunities for the Cebuanos. By then the appraisal rate of the SRP lots will definitely rise. The city will then have a good bargaining position with other interested investors.
Mr. John Gokongwei, the patriarch, visited the place last December and he wanted the deal done immediately. Gokongwei said Cebu has a place in his heart because he started his small business here until it became big and he invested his money in the National Capital Region and the entire archipelago.
I don’t know what is the status of this proposal now. I never heard of the chief executive talk about it in the media. Also, the city council never discussed it or passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with the company.
We are talking here of a long-term business prospect wherein everything should be carefully studied and scrutinized. But at present, this is a welcome development. I hope our politicians will put aside their political differences for the benefit of the great majority and for Cebu’s economic growth. Ang atong kalambuan naa sa ilang mga kamot.