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Soaring Ahead of the Curve : Cagayan de Oro Takes Off as PH’s Next Metropolitan Center

The Philippine Development Plan of 2019-2022 envisions Cagayan de Oro City to become the Philippines ‘next metropolis by 2025.

However, one only has to look around to see for himself that the boom that’s suppose to propel the metropolization of this gateway city to Mindanao and its environs could already be coming in ahead of schedule.

Although the outward signs evidently are all over town, data from government entities charged with recording business and financial transactions prove beyond the shadow of a doubt there is indeed a healthy lifeblood of investments and business confidence beneath the muscle and sinew putting up the new buildings and new businesses.

Data from the City Finance Department /Treasurer’s Office show that from 3,439 new business permits issued in 2013, there were already 4,367 by 2017.  Renewals have grown even faster, from 14,640 in 2013 to 19,330 in 2017.

In toto, from 18,079 business permits in 2013, there were 5.618 more in 2017, for an impressive 31% growth over the four year period to 23,697 total permits, barely a year into the second term of City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno.

On the average, prior to 2013, there were only 13,099 registered businesses on record per year.  From 2014 to 2019 the number ballooned to 18,125 registered businesses per year.  New business registrations in these groups of years on the other hand had a yearly average of 3,156 and 4,000, respectively.

“The people deserve more to be able to respond to the pressures and demands of their city that is fast becoming a burgeoning metropolis,” said Moreno in his message published in the City Mayor’s Report for 2018. “The city that continues to attract investments as a competitive destination for commerce and industry, city of choice for education, preferred medical/hospital care destination, and as banking and financial hub of the region.”

“All of these because of its business-friendly governance, comfortably calm peace and public safety condition, as well as its sustained commitment to become a climate resilient city where people live and enjoy relatively safer environment.”

New investments reported by the City Finance Department grew 136.7% with total capitalization of P3.906-Billion (B), consisting of more than 4,000 businesses that were registered with the Department of Trade and Industry(DTI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The construction boom surged to new heights in 2017 driven by the construction of new hotels, condominiums, housing projects and commercial/hospital buildings. The single largest investment recorded was the P2.8-B bulk water supply project of Metro Pacific Investments.

Meantime, investments monitored by the Misamis Oriental provincial office in 2017 grew 214%  to P7.260-B, from only P2,310-B in 2016.

Major sectors covered included P4.468-B under Infrastructure and Services, and P2.267-B for Real Property/Real Estate/Real Estate Development.  

City Competitiveness Network

To further bolster the city’s competitiveness, Moreno established the City Competitiveness Network in 2017. Chaired by the City Mayor and co-chaired by the NEDA-10 Regional Director, it is supported by the Local Economic and Investment Promotion Office as Secretariat, which also operates the Cagayan de Oro Trade and Investment Promotions Center.

Since it was first established in 2013, Cagayan de Oro has maintained its position among the Top 10 Most Competitive Cities (Highly Urbanized Cities Category) and was ranked fifth in overall competitiveness in 2018, and No. 1 as the Most Resilient City.

Eileen E. San Juan, the city’s Local Economic & Investment Promotion Office, credited the initiatives undertaken by the Moreno administration since its first term in the latter half of 2013 to improve the business climate in the city and make it more business and people friendly.

“Primary among these are the automation/online platforms for business registration, payment of taxes and fees, building permits, the updating of the Local Investment Incentive Code in 2018 and the Local  Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code,” San Juan said.

From an average of 19 days in 2012, the City under the Moreno initiative reduced the time for securing a new business permit to only 46.88 minutes in 2013 and further to 31.82 minutes in 2014. It takes an average of 5 days in other LGUs to secure a new business permit.

Similarly, business permit renewals which took two days in 2012, were reduced to only 100.93 minutes by 2013 and further reduced by 50% of that to only 51.79 minutes. This likewise compares well with other LGUs where an average of 5 days is needed to renew a business permit.

Cagayan de Oro became the first country in 2014 to institute an Online Assessment and Payment for new and renewal of business applications, quarterly business permits, real property taxes, city building fees, fines for road and traffic violations, market stall rentals, and other taxes and fees.

For this achievement, Cagayan de Oro was declared champion in the 6th Awards for Excellence in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Local Government Units or eGOV Awards under the Best in Digital Payment category.

Organized by the DICT and NICP, the eGOV Awards recognizes innovative and outstanding local government units which innovate information and communication technology to improve the delivery of public services.

Cagayan de Oro likewise blazed the trail for other LGUS in the same year when it streamlined the construction permitting process for building and occupancy permits through the Building Permit Management System of the Cagayan de Oro Office of the Building Official (OBO) in partnership with the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP).

Not the least, it updated its Investment Incentives Ordinance in 2018 by offering a local business tax holiday on gross receipts of new businesses from two to five years depending on the number of workers employed, capitalization, nature of technology used and location of new enterprises.

These business-friendly initiatives did not go unnoticed, and made the city a finalist in 2018 in the Most Business Friendly Local Government Unit category.

Peace and Public Safety

On top of all these, Cagayan de Oro has also scored high peace and public safety, a priority concern businessmen and investors rank highly in Mindanao.

From 2018, Cagayan de Oro accomplished an impressive 45% reduction (-3,369) in total crime volume compared to 2017.

The Cagayan de Oro City Police Office further bolstered its crime clearance efficiency to 87.2% in 2018 (from 72.4% in 2017), and its crime solution efficiency from 63.3% in 2017 to 77.1% in 2018.

As a result, the average monthly crime rate in Cagayan de Oro City dropped from 89.3 percentage points in 2017 to  only 49.1 per 100,000 population in 2018 , an impressive 40.2 reduction.

“Peace is an entitlement of the people,” said Moreno, who currently also serves as the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-10) Chairperson. (RMB)

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