Group calls for resume biz activities In Marawi

THE BUSINESS sector in Mindanao has supported the call for the resumption of the business activities in the war-torn Marawi City as part of the reconstruction phase.

As part of its support for the call, the Mindanao Business Council (MinBC), in a press statement released Monday afternoon, said that part of its call is the implementation of a five-point agenda designed to “bring back (business activities) into functionality to Marawi City and help uplift the status of its people who now depends (sic) on relief assistance.”

The agenda include the support for the immediate resumption of business activities; encourage formal and legitimate operations of businesses; institutionalize interventions for entrepreneurial education; intensify support services and programs; and, endorse recommendations of Marawi Chamber of Commerce to the Bangon Marawi.

Joining the business group in making the call, which was signed by MinBC chair Vicente T. Lao, were the International Alert and the Metro Marawi Chamber of Commerce.

The resumption of business activities will help ease the relief operations of the government; simplify the processes for businesses to boost early activities of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and must also provide a supply –chain environment for primary commodities with preferential rates.

In these activities, the group has proposed key actions, among them a yearlong moratorium on business loan repayments and interests, streamlining of processes and providing of accompaniment on loan and credit applications, and the facilitation and access provision to suppliers that can provide preferential rates.

“The scope and delimitation of this plan involves concrete support from the government through financial institutions (bank and non-bank)and other institutions that can provide loans and financing to MSMEs,” it said.

The second part of its proposal is for businesses to either gradually or simultaneously start operations, although the business group admitted that in doing so, there must be research necessary, although “it is difficult to acquire and interpret the entire macro and microeconomics of Marawi City without the (needed) data.”

The resumption of operations of businesses is expected to provide the city government with the much-needed revenue stream as businesses are expected to register their operations. “However, it is duly acknowledged that revenue is not the only driving force behind this, but more on formalizing the business sector and to ease the rebuilding process by offering incentives and easing of payments for this sector.

To achieve the goal, it added, there must a “streamline process and provide accompaniment for business registration, permits and licenses; and, lower the cost of initial business registration.”

Another point of consideration, it added, is providing capability-building activities to businesses to enhance their skills and technology. There must also be a mentoring mechanism and other similar opportunities to new businesses.

To complement the implementation of these first three points, it added, what must follow is a “sustainable environment and resilient system for businesses to thrive and grow.

“The need to intensify business support services and programs will not only provide supplementary incentives to the IDBs (internally-displaced businesses), but all the more create a well-endowed opportunity for them to increase their financial flexibility, innovate on their craft, engage in advantageous joint projects, and take part in public-private partnerships in the economy.”

The sustainability of the businesses can be realized, it added, if incentives are offered like tax breaks as well as assistance in looking for markets and linkages as well as product development. Another key initiatives in this aspect are to encourage businesses to develop partnership, push government to initiate public-private partnerships and urge donor agencies to provide help.

The last point in the agenda is to endorse the proposal of the Metro Marawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry to the body tasked to manage the reconstruction of the city, Bangon Marawi.

Among the recommendations of the business group are the setting up of a special body that will inventory the losses incurred by businesses as a result of the five-month long war, a “just compensation” package for businesses as a result of the inventory, and the establishment of a temporary market, known to the locals as Padian, that should be situated at what used to be the terminal of the city and that this market must prioritize “basic and prime commodities.”

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