Former PCCI regional guv bares wishlist to chamber’s new leadership

BEFORE he stepped down as the regional governor (RG) of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Central Visayas, Edward Du of Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry outlined his wishlist to the new RG and to the PCCI which includes better power rates and a strong representation in the regional wage board.During the virtual turnover and presentation ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, Du asked newly elected RG of the PCCI-Central Visayas Melanie Ng to continue the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s fight against Visayan Electric’s high power rates in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) “no matter what happens.”On Dec. 4, 2021, CCCI requested the Regional Development Council 7 to follow up on the ERC findings on Cebu’s high power rates.The chamber wants the ERC to respond, produce facts and analysis and address the very issue of Cebu’s high cost of power.Du also asked Ng to continue the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s ongoing battle against the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) 7 by putting a stop to the illegal and arbitrary reclassification of cities and municipalities.He also asked Ng to continue to support and champion Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s flagship free wifi project including the upcoming satellite broadband internet connectivity project as a model for a resilient internet connectivity in Central Visayas.As for PCCI through its newly elected president Georg Barcelon, Du requested the chamber’s assistance in nominating Ng to become an automatic member of the Regional Development Council 7 and the RTWPB 7 so that she can pursue all the initiatives of the six chambers in the region.He also requested the PCCI to lobby with the Department of Information and Communications Technology for the inclusion of Siquijor Island in the list of proof of concept (POC) sites for a satellite broadband internet connectivity pursuant to Executive Order 127.PCCI responseIn his response, Barcelon said he will take note of Du’s requests, noting that these are important issues and that the chamber is cognizant of the business community’s concerns.As for the expansion of the availability of the wifi, Barcelon assured that PCCI’s committee of digital innovations will look into the matter.“We have expressed our thoughts that one of the areas that must be chosen for the POC must be Negros Oriental,” he said.While he acknowledged the economic losses brought about by super typhoon Odette (Rai) and the still ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in Central Visayas, the PCCI chief said the chamber sees a silver lining with the reopening of the country’s borders to foreign leisure tourists from visa-free countries.Barcelon said this is a positive signal and a big push to the tourism industry’s recovery efforts.“We hope that very soon we will be able to go back to the pre-pandemic level for Central Visayas, particularly Cebu that receives most of the tourist arrivals,” he said.Ease of doing businessTo help businesses recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Barcelon promised to help solve pressing issues, build initiatives on innovations and focus on advocacies on ease of doing business, finance the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and tackle issues on climate change and connectivity, among others.Moreover, Barcelon announced that the chamber will be meeting with Anti-Red Tape Authority (Arta) chief Jeremiah Belgica in the first week of March to discuss a possible collaboration with the chamber in making the ease of doing business visible in the local level.“We know very well that the compliance, bureaucracy are borne out of the local government units,” said Barcelon.PCCI also vowed to continue working with the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Trade and Industry on innovations, MSME development and skills development.