Doing business in Zamboanga City – not easy PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 May 2014 00:00

“We can always go to other places instead of Zamboanga City.” This was the frustration expressed to me by a couple who are contemplating not to push thru of setting up their technology business here anymore. Late last year, a top executive government official gave them a lukewarm welcome and said it’s a private sector concern when they paid a courtesy visit in City Hall.  The answer was an upfront let down to them already. The accompanying local businessmen who went with them were dumbfounded.

Second, when these couple presented their business proposal to an investment government site, they were told to do a presentation to the board with the reason the board wanted to make a “wise decision.” Really?

One knows an investor is serious when it can submit all the mandated requirements. Unless, you doubt the credibility of the investors, you don’t subject investors to an “investigation or interrogation process.”  You don’t ask them to “apply” and go thru a so-called “make the board understand board interview.” They are applying as investor and not as an “employee”, they are the city’s future employer!

What I know, you give your investor a feeling of excitement, respect, and not make them feel discomfort by subjecting them to a questions and answers portion. You treat them with a sumptuous dinner, show them around, and make friends with them. Later, you call them to make follow-ups until they say “Yes!” and not the other way around. I thought all the while this government investment site is the expert in handling investors well and have improved under its newly re-appointed administrator.

But one thing I am sure too, the investment board members are receiving honorarium and having a hay day spending government money in meetings, yet, they seem not to be accountable to the primary question we should ask them every month, “How many investors have you approved since you were appointed?”

I really lament that our city government do not have an investment office that can entertain investors by giving all the facts and data why Zambonga City is a good investment site. It can make the investors feel more comfortable of gambling their money here. Sadly to realize, our city do not have a knowledgeable and competent investment officer who can explain our present business city economic viability. A national government agency in-charge of trade and investment in our city is another inutile city economic information center too. They have antiquated economic data about our city. They do not have updated brochure about the cost of doing business in Zamboanga City to start with.

If you want to do business in Zambonga City, go to the normal route of applying a business permit is all our local government can offer. O yeah, there is a consuelo, a minute or two picture-picture with the City Mayor after waiting for long hours. In the previous administration, the former head was adamant that outside investors are here in the first place to make money, why give them special treatment. The interest of local businessmen is more important to be “protected” too. Yeah, right!

Business investors must do their own business research or study to help them decide to proceed or to back out in doing business in our city. But you can be sure to see government officials present and grinning widely in cutting the opening ribbon of a new business establishment and claiming credit in media releases.

Unfortunately, the leading local business organization is not also of help to new business people coming over. It is having its own difficulty managing its own office since last year. But I am confident the new president can rise it up as he said in a recent feel good seminar, “Failure is a delayed success,” (that is if one can face up the failure soon, Sir).

I have a hypothetical business question that I have been asking around, “If you have 50-million pesos right now, what business would you invest in Zamboanga City?” The best comfortable and “feel safe” answer I got, “If I have that money, I will invest in another city or investment zone so that my family and I can enjoy life to the full, will not hide my children, build a nice house with a low fence, and not be paranoid specially when the business becomes a success.” That’s why I don’t wonder why big time city government officials with a conglomerate of big family business in Metro Manila have not opened a business here. Ask them why.

Security, security, security is still the foremost concern of investors of coming to Zamboanga City and the reason why some local businesses are leaving. Until then, we can see the children of rich families and even of government officials are allowed freely to roam in our down town area, it is better to keep away, be safe than sorry for themselves.

By Dante Corteza

Psalm 121:7-8   “The LORD will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”