DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The business group in Marawi City said the cost of the five-month war against the Maute Group reached P8.8 billion.
Solaiman Matonding, president of the 3,600-strong Marawi Association of Internally Displaced Businessperson, said the amount is the estimated cost of damages and losses that includes damages to personal properties of the internally-displaced business people (IDBs).
He cited the estimate made by the Metro Marawi City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Matonding, however, stressed that the amount “may not be conclusive of the actual cost of damages and losses due to a number of reasons.”
He said one of the factors is the inaccessibility of the areas in the battleground preventing the Chamber to assess the actual damages to properties.
Matonding spoke to members of the Mindanao Business Council during the 2017 Annual General Membership Meeting and Partners Forum held at the Marco Polo Hotel here Friday, December 8.
To get the estimate, Matonding said the Chamber “conducted an extensive survey through our Damage Intake Sheets distributed to every known business person who were engaged in commercial transactions in the City” before the siege happened last May 23.
The survey asked respondents to provide them with their estimated value of the cost of their damaged properties “whether personal and business properties.”
Matonding said they also gathered official data from the city offices of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The report found out there were 3,659 business establishments in Marawi City before the siege took place.
Prioritize the business sector
Matonding urged the government to prioritize the business sector by allotting enough financial support.
“It is us actually who will recover, kami ang babangon ng Marawi (we will rebuild Marawi),” he said.
“The indicator of the progress in any city, in any country, the progress of development, is the business sector,” Matonding added.
The Marawi Association of Internally Displaced Businessperson was established by the Chamber to serve as an umbrella organization for all affected businessmen, whether they are members of the Chamber or not.
In October this year, Matonding said they have communicated their recommendation to the government through the Task Force Bangon Marawi’s sub-committee on business and livelihood headed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
He said the DTI has offered some financial assistance to the affected business community, however the amount, Matonding said, is not enough.
“We are hearing about billions of pesos from different international donors and also from government that will be spent for the rehabilitation of Marawi, and yet there’s a very, very small portion allotted for the business sector,” he said.
He said: “I think out of P5 billion there’s only P22 million for the recovery of the business sector.” He said the amount is “too small.”
Matonding’s family was previously engaged in the business of jewelry, tailoring, travel and tours agency, property leasing and other businesses. But after the war “everything was lost”, he said.
The cost of damage reached around P20 million, he said.
During the meeting, the Mindanao Business Council Inc, said they are supporting the Marawi business sector by recommending to the government a five-point agenda to bring business activities back to the city.
The 5-Point Agenda” includes a request for “just compensation” to all victims in the business sector based on the record of individual inventory made by a “Special Body.”
The Metro Marawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry request the Sub-Committee to create a “Special Body” who will take charge in making an official inventory on the damages in the business sector for the purpose of making an official record of each business owner.
Vicente Lao, chairperson of the Mindanao Business Council said “these are very concrete suggestions to government.”
The agenda also includes supporting the immediate resumption of business activities in Marawi City by imposing a one-year moratorium on business loans repayment and interests; streamlining the process on loan and credit applications; and facilitating access to suppliers that can provide preferential rates.
They also called to encourage formal and legitimate operation of businesses by streamlining the process and providing accompaniment for business registration, permits and licenses; and lowering the cost of initial business registration.
The agenda also called on institutionalizing interventions for entrepreneurial education including regular capacity building provided to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and mentoring and internship opportunities to new entrepreneurs.
They also called for tax relief for two years on business and real property taxes; assistance on market development and linkages; assistance on product development; and encouraging private sector to invest.
He said the five-point advocacy agenda was crafted from various regional consultations they conducted among business organizations, civil society groups, and government agencies.(davaotoday.com)