Local business leaders have praised the performance of Cagayan de Oro City for maintaining its status within the Top 10 Most Competitive Cities in the Philippines in the Department of Trade and Industries Cities and Municipalities Competitive Index for 2020.
Cagayan de Oro City retained its ranking as the 7th Overall Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City (HUC) in the 2020 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index as disclosed by the DTI Competitiveness Bureau during the 8th Regional Competitiveness Summit on16 December 2020, via Facebook Live.
“I am not surprised because Cagayan de Oro truly deserves to be among the top 10 most highly urbanized cities in the Philippines,” said Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, president of Promote Normin and former president of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (Oro Chamber).
“We are fortunate business is almost normal given our present MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) status which allows us to continue albeit on a controlled level. We are also lucky our local government is doing an excellent work in managing the pandemic in our area which allows us to do this,” he added.
Oro Chamber President Ruben A. Vegafria shares the same sentiment.
“Cagayan de Oro today is already better off than other cities simply because of our MGCQ status. Mobility and business activity are reasonably seen although not at full capacity. The expected arrival of vaccines hopefully during the 2nd quarter brings a ray of hope towards full recovery of the local economy in 2021,” Vegafria said.
However, he cautioned that stakeholders should not be complacent and throw caution to the winds especially during the Christmas season.
“We cannot let our guard down especially during this Yuletide season. Following strictly the health protocols is still the best way to survive and prevail against the pandemic,” Vegafria stressed.
Misamis Oriental Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (MOFCCCII) President Antonio Uy agrees.
“All’s worth it. Well deserved. 2021 will be, as expected, a trying year economically, cuts across the public and private sectors. Maintain lang resiliency. Effective traffic management is wanting,” Uy commented.
Jaime Rafael U. Paguio, Oro Chamber Chairman of the Board of Trustees, foresees a tough road ahead as the world and the region seeks to get back on its feet from the debilitating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our task for 2021 is to help restart the economy by providing enough business incentives, financial support and leeway through the extension of payments of financial obligations including financial support to viable but severely affected businesses. In short, pump prime the economy for it to restart,” Paguio stressed.
“In so doing, we achieve several ends: the reduction of unemployment levels, increased business activity resulting to the generation of revenues for government through taxes, reviving customer confidence, and relieving government’s amelioration spending.”
“Yet the irony is, for us to survive this pandemic, we still need to implement physical curtailment measures which inhibits and curtails business activity. That is why our health authorities and government officials are delicately trying to balance the economy and health protocols which is similar to walking in a tightrope,” he cautioned.
Vegafria shares the same assessment.
“The road to full recovery is not going to be easy and quick, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change challenges, and the destabilizing winds of politics breezing our socio-economic order. But crisis after crisis has taught us to be more resilient, entrepreneurial and innovative,” he said.
Paras said he is optimistic 2021 will be much better than this year especially when the Covid-19 vaccines become available in the country as expected by the 2nd quarter of next year.
“The primary objective then is to reduce the infection rate without unduly constricting business activity. Human life always takes precedence over financial well-being , but then in order to raise our capability to save lives we will need money. This is the dilemma of government, that is why the private sector and everybody else has to help out and share this burden otherwise business will slump further causing untold losses,” Paguio said.
“The challenge is not only to survive the pandemic but prosper under these adverse conditions. It might be a tall order but ingenious as we are, we will always adapt in this dire situation in order to survive because truly there is no other option.”
Cagayan de Oro City was one of only two (2) cities outside the National Capital Region (NCR) that made it into the top 10, with Davao City ranking 2nd to Metro Manila.
“2021 may be a game changer considering each LGU’s experience in the pandemic. As you can see, in the top 10, all are NCR cities, except Cagayan de Oro and Davao,” said Eileen E. San Juan, Cagayan de Oro Local Economy and Investment Promotion Officer (LEIPO).
“We have to see how the lockdowns in these cities impact on the different pillars of competitiveness. For government efficiency, many LGUs may have significant improvements due to the streamlining of business processes and implementation of the EODB (Ease of Doing Business) Law.
For the CMCI 2020 rankings, Cagayan de Oro ranked 5th among HUCs in Infrastructure, 6th in Resiliency, 9th in Government Efficiency, 12th in Economic Dynamism.
“ Lessons learned from the Spanish flu of the 1920s is valuable because it is almost an exact template of what is happening now, the only difference is now, we have the knowledge and better technology to combat the virus, but then, our intransigence has been the same hurdle,” Paguio said.
“However, I always have faith in the ingenuity of man, same as we have continuously disproven the Malthusian Theorem. We just need to persevere and rally together to get this economy going to its robust state prior to the pandemic or even eclipse it. Of course, nothing is impossible when our Lord is behind us. He probably just wants us to slow down a bit so we can put more value to family, friendship and be able to work more closely with each other.”