Forum underscores potential of city in manufacturing and tech industry

IT’S TAX, NOT A.I. Uncertainty in tax regimes, not the emergence of artificial intelligence, slowed down investments and expansions in the business processes sector in the Philippines, according to political economist Calixto Chikiamco during the Security Bank Economic Forum at Courtyard by Marriott-Iloilo, June 20, 2019. ( F. A. Angelo )

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

Business and economic leaders underscored the potential of Iloilo City in manufacturing and technology industry in an economic forum on June 20, 2019 at Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo in Mandurriao district.

While Iloilo City is quite strong in business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, it has also a good potential in manufacturing, according to Calixto Chikiamco, Political Economist and president of Foundation for Economic Freedom.

“I think you also have a good potential in manufacturing because Iloilo has a history of manufacturing, it used to be the textile center in the Philippines in the 19th century so especially now with the US, China trade war, there are a lot of manufactories looking to relocate in other countries,” he said.

To further develop the potential, Chikiamco emphasized the need to improve the ports in the metro.

“There are so many factories in China who want to leave so why not attract some of here. We have an English-speaking workforce so that is quite advantage,” Chikiamco said.

He also noted of the potential of Iloilo City to become a hub for tech industries especially with the presence of good universities and schools.

“The other potential that we are talking about is Iloilo can be a hub for tech industries because again ou have a lot of good universities here. Good software programmers and developers could form the core for tech start-ups and that would be the basis of new industries,” Chikiamco said.

However, the said industries would need the support from the government and the investors, Chikiamco added.

“That would need support from the government and investor. But you have the people, that’s the advantage of Iloilo, their educational system, I can testify to that because I’m an employer and especially in tech, they are actually good. You can be a tech center here but of course with the right policies in place,” he furthered.

Francis Gentoral, Executive Director, Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc. said that they have started materializing the suggestions of Chikiamco.

“We are now tackling the ports issues and we are already pushing for the improvement of our ports. We are also coming up with an ‘Innovate Iloilo’ roadmap together with the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other stakeholders in Iloilo City to develop an ecosystem for a startup community in the metro,” he said.

But in order to achieve this, Gentoral emphasized the need to strengthen the policies particularly in the implementation and execution aspect.

“How to implement it and execute it would require n enabling environment, a well capacitated local government unit (LGU) that work with the private sector, resources basically how you would be able to generate resources from national funds especially if the programs are requiring big ticket financing,” he said.

With the assumption of new local government officials, Gentoral said he is positive that public and private partnerships will be even more visible in the city.

He underscored the importance of engaging in the private sector.

“It is important to engage in the private sector because the creation of employment, attraction of investments, and even maintaining it in the city are very important tools to sustain the economy of the city and the province,” he furthered.

Both Chikiamco and Gentoral were speakers during the fourth economic forum organized by the Security Bank Corp (SBC).

The forum which discussed the political implications of the recently concluded midterm elections and also tackled how the businesses in Western Visayas can take advantage of the economic and technological trends was part of the Security Bank’s roadshow to reach key investment hubs nationwide.

It is also the first forum of the bank outside Luzon.

“Iloilo City has become the premier gateway to Visayas with a growing hub for BPOs, real estate companies and SMEs among the few. It is becoming one of the future-cities because of its progressive policies. The city must know what challenges it may face to create solutions to face these disruptions. Security Bank is taking this opportunity to provide you with valuable information that will help in making the best business decisions,” Security Bank President & CEO Alfonso Salcedo Jr., said in his opening remarks.