The General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (GSCCCII) under the present leadership strongly pushes its projects and programs, all of which are strongly coordinated and collaborated with the local government of General Santos, national government agencies, civil society, and non-government organizations to achieve maximum positive impact for the city and its constituents. The efforts of the organization are directed towards creating opportunities for the City and its populace, and the business community.
GSCCCII’s competitive edge are anchored in the areas of Power Reliability and Sufficiency; ASEAN Connectivity; Solid Partnership with the local government unit, government agencies, non-government organizations, and civil society; Makar Port Development; Business Risk Assessment and the Management of Climate Change Impacts; and Conduit of Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro Peace Process.
POWER RELIABILITY AND SUFFICIENCY
In 2013, GSCCCII devoted time, energy, and resources to help South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative, Inc. look for sources of power to help resolve the power crisis afflicting the city and its neighboring areas. The efforts paid off when in April this year, SoEnergy International Philippines, Inc. started operating its 15MW modular gensets reducing the regular brownouts that plague the city. Moreover, in November, 2014, Peakpower SOCCSARGEN, Inc., a power company investing in General Santos City, will provide an additional 20MW power supply. GSCCCII supported Peakpower SOCCSARGEN’s Power Purchase Agreement to ensure power availability. The additional 35MW enables SOCOTECO II to meet its 120MW peak power requirement. The high impact of this advocacy is the resolution of the power crisis affecting the city and the proper forecast of the city’s power requirements for the next five years.
ASEAN CONNECTIVITY IN SUPPORT OF LOCAL BUSINESSMEN
Consistent with our solid advocacy to create a healthy business environment with the end-view of connecting local businessmen and entrepreneurs with their ASEAN counterparts and helping them find markets, GSCCCII in strong partnership with MinDA lobbied for the operationalization of the Davao-General Santos-Tahuna-Bitung (DGTB) Shipping Service. Towards this end, IPP RK Salangsang and RG RL Billena went on a mission twice to Jakarta, Indonesia on October 7, 2013 and August 19-20, 2014, respectively to finalize and harmonize all remaining works to ensure the full operations of the DGTB Shipping Route of P.T. Kanaka Lines. Moreover, President Daniel Pesik of North Minahasa Chamber of Commerce visited General Santos City on May 24, 2014 and met with local businessmen and government leaders of the city and Sarangani on the proposed shipping route and the goods that will be traded. MinDA also facilitated the Stakeholders Meeting re the DGTB Shipping Route of P.T. Kanaka on July 11, 2014 to further clarify issues, concerns, and shipping policies.
SOLID PARTNERSHIP WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF GENERAL SANTOS
Committed to its Mission of creating a livable, competitive, and socially-responsible General Santos City, GSCCCII involves itself in proactive governance by involving itself vigorously on the Proposed Revisions of Real Property Valuations and Assessment Fees. GSCCCII actively participates in all Committee Hearings and even formed a TWG to review the proposed increase in fair market value of real property. GSCCCII has submitted a Stakeholders’ Position Paper to the local Sangguniang Panlungsod to push for a reasonable adjustment. GSCCCII also strongly lobbied for the approval of the Revised Local Investment Code. To help local businessmen, GSCCCII convinced the local investment board to inform the Assessor’s Office that machineries were intended to be exempt from realty taxes upon the grant of incentives, and to include in the final draft of the new Local Investment Code such exemption. This was made possible through its Chairmanship of the Competitiveness Committee in the City Development Council of General Santos. GSCCCII sponsored the first-ever General Santos City Economic Summit on October 3, 2013 that tackled major governance issues like Inadequate Traffic Management System and Mass Transport System, Shortage of Tourism, Entertainment, and Recreation Centers and other concerns. In February this year, GSCCCII initiated a Breakfast Meeting with City Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera together with all city department heads to follow through on the agreements made during the 2013 Economic Summit. The Chief Executive presented his Plans and Programs for the City and committed to set the 2nd Economic Summit as a venue to check the progress of the Action Plan of the 2013 Economic Summit.
MAKAR PORT DEVELOPMENT
GSCCCII co-managed and co-presented together with the Port Management Office and SOCSKSARGEN Area Development Project Office the pre-Summit Focused Group Discussions and the subsequent 1st Makar Port Development Summit on July 2, 2014 in the city. The Summit tackled the priority Port Development Projects, Port Development, Port Labor Relations, and Port Operations and Tariff. The Summit produced a Position Paper “Strongly Recommending the Improvement and Modernization of the GSC Makar Port to Enhance Sea Connectivity and Strengthen Trade for Greater Economic Opportunities.”
BUSINESS RISK ASSESSMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS
To help prepare and equip our businessmen on business risk assessment and the management of climate change impacts, GSCCCII teamed up and co-organized with the local government of General Santos, WWF-Philippines, and BPI Foundation, the General Santos City Scenario-Building Exercise for Climate Change Adaptation on 12-13 August 2014. The outputs of the exercises will be presented by WWF, BPI Foundation, and Brain Trust to the city government, the local chamber, and the participants in another forum in December 2014. The impact of this project is to generate awareness and preparedness among the business community of the effects of climate change and formulate measures to mitigate these effects.
As a spirited Green movement advocate, GSCCCII actively engaged in the 1st Climate Change Summit on July 31, 2014 at the KCC Convention, General Santos City with Executive Director BS Canlas acting as Presentor. Moreover, ED BS Canlas joined the Climate Change Forum and Focus Group Discussions on June 25-26, 2014 at the Tierra Montana Hotel, General Santos City.
In the Green Business Forum on July 18, 2014 at Phela Grande Hotel, this city, with Senator Franklin Drilon as keynote speaker, GSCCCII with its Executive Director and some members actively joined in the forum discussions as moderator and participants, respectively.
CONDUIT OF FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT ON BANGSAMORO PEACE PROCESS
GSCCCII in strong collaboration with the Third Party Monitoring Team actively supported the top-priority policy of the Aquino Administration by facilitating consultations on the Bangsamoro Peace Process on June 6, 2014. This was done in order to raise awareness among local business people on the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed bill. By laying the ground work for peace and harmony, future investors will not hesitate to take part in the growth of the city. More importantly, public security will be upheld at all times.
In March this year, GSCCCII joined, supported, and manifested its position at the KANDULI for Peace, an activity endorsing the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), at the Covered Court, Oval Plaza, this city. The signing of the CAB was on March 27, 2014. It was covered nationally and programs were simultaneously organized in major cities in Mindanao.
The hallmark of our strong advocacies as an organization is captured in our quest for Excellence, steadfast Commitment, and effective Service. The Chamber is only forty years old. It is a very young organization. It has new horizons to conquer given the new challenges that the 2015 ASEAN Integration will bring about. We will sustain our strong advocacy points; strengthen our areas of improvement; think outside the box; be open to paradigm shifts, but most importantly, we will press on as the champion of the business community.