DIPOLOG CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent advice to giant investors to “stay away from Western Mindanao” may be a boon for local businesses here.
This was according to Rolando Soliva, president of Dipolog Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), who said Tuesday he hopes the President would continue to promote micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSME).
During a meeting with investors in Davao City September 6, Duterte was quoted by reporters as saying, “I will not recommend any new economic activity or investments on the Western side, especially on the islands there. I don’t think it’s prudent for you to consider.”
The President added investors have to consider peace and order situation, particularly in the islands.
“But upwards toward the north, the Visayas would be a good place to look and think of things that you can do. Cebu and Bohol are really good places to consider.”
Soliva, who also chairs Zamboanga del Norte Police Provincial Office Advisory Council, conceded that while there are problems in peace and order in this part of the country, he said Zamboanga del Norte is being unfairly lumped with dangerous areas because it is part of Western Mindanao.
“Yet I want to believe President Duterte was indeed referring to the huge investors or the giant businesses, which for me is right because their entry to our province would definitely kill our micro, small and medium scale businesses,” Soliva said.
An example, he said, is the “Divisoria” business area in Cagayan de Oro City that was flourishing with local businesses, but went down with the coming of large malls.
“Worse, a large part of the income of giant businesses go to Metro Manila, only a small part is left to the host place,” Soliva said, as he stressed that MSMEs are the main economic driver of this province.
“In fact, 99.6 percent of the total business establishments in the country are MSMEs only about 0.4 percent are businesses with a capitalization of more than 100 million pesos,” Soliva said.
The DCCI president said he himself would not like giant investors to come in this province, “on which I thank President Duterte if that was what he was trying to say because it will kill us, local businessmen.”
Besides, Soliva said that our dominant economic system makes the mighty rich become super-rich as there is a big discrepancy between our country’s economic growth and who benefited from it most.
Soliva quoted former National Economic and Development Authority Director Cielito Habito, who said that Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew tremendously from 2010-2018, but in 2012 alone, 76 percent of that year’s 6.8 percent GDP growth benefited only the top 40 richest families.
“Somehow our democracy has created economic monsters that are seemingly no longer controllable,” Soliva said.
He said the trend can still be reversed “if we remove” the main factors that promote economic imbalance that causes poverty by eradicating corruption, incompetence and inefficiency in national and local government agencies; improve bad local government leadership; and compel oligarchs and business sector to adhere to their social responsibilities.
“That’s why I did not take President Duterte’s pronouncements as killing Zamboanga del Norte, but as a wake-up call for us, particularly our local leaders, to lay the foundation for economic growth in Zamboanga del Norte, and we should double time,” Soliva said. (PNA)
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