THE NEWLY-ELECTED president of Cebu’s largest business group vowed to help Cebu become a more attractive destination for investments in manufacturing.
“We need to strengthen Cebu’s manufacturing sector,” said Antonio Chiu, the new president of the over 800-strong Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) last Saturday.
Chiu runs several other business ventures, the latest of which is Anilson Packaging Solutions Inc. He said one cannot downplay the multiplier effect of manufacturing on the domestic economy, especially in the countryside where new jobs and additional incomes will boost consumer spending and lift living standards.
Chiu noted that manufacturing provides job opportunities to a less-educated workforce who would need extensive training to get into the information technology and business process management industries.
Value your people
After obtaining his chemical engineering degree from the University of the Philippines in 1978, the Cebuano business leader jump-started his career in manufacturing by helping out in several businesses owned by his family, one of which is wood processing.
Later, he joined the family’s green-field business, which is cement production, but they eventually sold it.
“Back then, I was exposed to really working behind the scenes,” said Chiu, who added that his leadership skill was further honed when he joined the manufacturing industry, a sector that usually employs a big number of workers.
“I learned that when you value your people, they will help your business succeed. The success of a business is magnified by its employees. Everything may be run by machines, but everything else that the machine can’t handle is run by people. You have to treat them well,” said Chiu.
Chiu is the fourth in a brood of six. Three of his siblings are already based in the US.
He joined CCCI in 2010 and became vice-president for external affairs during the presidency of Lito Maderazo.
In 2013, he first ran for CCCI president but later withdrew. He had the opportunity to serve the chamber again in 2014 as one of trustees and, during past-president Melanie Ng’s two-year term, as vice-president for finance.
For Chiu, serving the chamber is an opportunity.
“As we all pushed CCCI to level up, the position you hold becomes a full-time job now. It’s a big sacrifice, a big challenge but a lot will benefit from your service,” he said.
Chiu noted it was his colleagues’ faith in him that made him accept the responsibility.
“When they were all in the process of evaluating potential candidates, they all came to see me. For me, that shows their faith in me (to become the voice of the business community),” said Chiu, who added he is confident that he can run the chamber well with the help of the chamber’s reliable and empowered team.
Presidents of CCCI are regularly consulted on programs, projects, such as for local infrastructure, as well as proposed regulations.
Besides leading Anilson Packaging Solutions, Inc., Chiu is also president of Cebu Grand Industries, Inc., Coastal Highpoint Ventures, Inc., Anilson Ventures, Inc., RLC Coastal Estates, Inc., Geltech Healthfoods, Inc. and a senior consultant of Taiheiyo Cement Philippines, Inc.
He is also the honorary consul in Cebu of the Slovak Republic.
Besides pushing for manufacturing resurgence, Chiu also vowed to help the business community raise their concerns on the high cost of doing business and the need for better infrastructure.
He said fixing the loopholes and outdated policies will pave the way for seamless outpouring of investments in the countryside.
Chiu noted that investors would love to diversify and expand their businesses, but what hampers them are the exist-ing policies that are no longer applicable to times.
He referred, for example, to the single category business tax being implemented by the local government units in other towns, which has become a burden to small and medium enterprises.
Chiu also cited the lack of infrastructure as another roadblock for these big-ticket investments to materialize.
“There’s plenty of work to be done and I assure everyone that the chamber is doing something about these,” he said.
Chiu assured there will be continuity of projects in the chamber, such as those carried out during Ng’s time, while the group continues to address other crucial concerns in the community.