By Simeon P. Marfori
President , Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Greetings! A wonderful Araw ng Dabaw to all of you! It is a pleasure and honor for the Davao business community to be a part of this celebration of the 71st anniversary of the birth of Davao city.
The business community of Davao is strong and vibrant. In the macroeconomic briefing made by National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) recently, the Davao region grew in 2007, despite the strengthening of the peso and the weakening of the US economy due to the sub-prime debacle.
Regional economic indicators recorded growths in agricultural output in all sub-sectors except poultry, which declined slightly.
Export receipts are up to 11 per cent, with bananas still leading the way.
Fisheries and livestock volumes are also up.
Tourism generated an estimated 7 billion peso in tourist receipts, from an 11 per cent increase in tourist arrivals compared to last year.
Employment went up from 92.9 per cent to 93.4 per cent.
The Board of Investments (BOI) registered investments soared 105 per cent while investments by new companies rose from 310 million pesos in 2006 to 416 million pesos in 2007.
This year, 344 new companies were registered in Davao City with paid up capital of 350 million pesos, up from 341 new companies registered with paid up capital of 129 million pesos last year.
In 2007 inflation dropped to 2.9 per cent from 5.9 per cent in 2006.
The Davao Chamber continues to be positive in its outlook for this year. Good weather will help sustain the growth in agriculture. Demand for housing will continue, the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector is expected to bring in new investments. Tourism will likely grow as well as last year, and more new investments in mining and property development and services are also anticipated to benefit the city.
But all these will be hard to sustain if we do not rise to the challenges before us.
First, we need to increase investments in our people. Demand for technical and language skills in the fast growing ICT led knowledge economy and the demand for skilled workers from the opening of new mines will increase demand for at an accelerating pace. Our universities and trade schools must re-align themselves quickly, to more fully meet the needs of these upcoming sectors.
On the horizon, demand for electricity is also expected to grow rapidly. If we do not act soon, organic population and economic growth fueled further by migration, and increasing family incomes, will put considerable pressure on power supply. The long lead times and large capital needed to place online new power sources makes it imperative that we take action this year so that in three years, these new power generation capacity will be available to meet growing demand.
The business community of Davao will continue to work closely with our city government and will do its part in helping generate employment, livelihood and business opportunities to Dabawenyos. We will seek new and more effective ways to partner with the other stakeholders of Davao to sustain and even improve the local economy.
In particular, we will focus on agriculture and food processing because this is the single economic largest sector of our region. Second, we will push tourism because we believe our potential in this sector still has much to contribute to our economy. And lastly, we will sustain our initiatives in ICT, being the fastest growing sector.
We have also identified certain bottlenecks to the growth of our local economy, especially agriculture–i.e. shipping costs. We cannot compete with farmers from Luzon, or Thailand, or China, if despite our competitive quality our shipping costs are higher. Therefore, we will work to help change this.
For sure, there will be many challenges that will arise in the course of the year. Our pledge in the business community is to rise to these challenges and seek the best long term win-win solutions because just like you, we, the business community of Davao, also love our city!
Happy 71st Anniversary to all of us.