PNoy’s visit with 14 Cabinet secretaries in MinBizCon “first in Mindanao in 20 yrs” – Gaisano

aug. 14, 2013
By Cha Monforte, Rural Urban News

Mindanao business leader John Gaisano heaped candid praises to President Aquino who graced in Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) last week in Davao City, hailing his visit with 14 Cabinet secretaries in tow as the “first in Mindanao in 20 years” since the Ramos time.
He said that there has been no occasion in the last 20 years that a President came to Mindanao bringing a lot of his Secretaries. 
In Club 888 press forum at Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City Wednesday, Gaisano of the famed Gaisano chain of malls in Mindanao and Visayas, expressed optimism that the presence of the President and majority of his Cabinet members is a “good sign” heralding something best from Manila to come for Mindanao in the next half of the presidential term.
“The President’s speech was better than his last SONA before our senators and congressmen. We, Mindanao stakeholders raised our concerns based on series of consultations with some 250 Mindanao businessmen and organization leaders. The President provides the broad strokes and clear directions and the Secretaries would have to deliver,” said Gaisano, the 22nd MinBizCon conference director.
He added with that given “content and substance of the President’s speech responding to the raised MinBizCon’s nine-point policy agenda, expectations are indeed very high now among businessmen and organization leaders.”
He said that Mindanao businessmen would be on their toes to monitor the presidential pronouncements as to “whether they have to execute it.”
MinBizCon is the largest annual gathering of Mindanao’s key business leaders and government officials in the collective effort to usher more investments and push dramatic economic development in the island-region’s 26 provinces, 422 municipalities and 33 cities. MinBizCon is now on its 22nd year.
The recent MinBizCon, held last August 8 to 10, raised a nine-point policy agenda which include calling for sufficient, reliable and clean energy, improved access to financing micro, small and medium enterprises and agricultural smallholders, enhanced infrastructure and logistics support to key production areas to improve intra- and interconnectivity of Mindanao, repeal of Cabotage Law, laying down of policy framework for responsible and sustainable mining practices, improved tourism infrastructure and regulation of adventure-tourism activities, job-skills matching, amendment of tariff and the customs code, and support of Mindanao growth corridors and export gateways.
Gaisano particularly stressed that if the Cabotage Law is repealed, “the cost of shipping will decrease, there will be more competition, prices will drop, the services will be better and almost 50 million Visayan-speaking people will benefit while it facilitates inter-and intra-trade with other islands.”
The businessman further asserted by asking that, “don’t you know that under the present Cabotage Law, it costs a lot more to ship from Mindanao to Manila than from Mindanao to Singapore?” 
It is claimed that under the Cabotage Law the restriction on foreign vessels in the movement of goods in Philippine ports increases their costs as cargoes have to be loaded and unloaded to and from foreign and local vessels and vice versa. 
The law is practically enforced by country’s Tariff and Customs Code which provides that maritime transportation of goods and passengers within the country is reserved to Philippine registered marine vessels. 
The law, which dates back to 1900s, is said to be protectionist then when it was necessary to promote the development of the local shipping industry. 
But critics now said that the law should be amended as it is behind the times to adjust to the present global economy.
President Aquino called for its amendment his SONA last month. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)


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