Isko’s pitch to call centers? Incentives await those who invest in Manila

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2019 03:28 AM

Isko Moreno called on BPO firms to open offices in Manila, saying that those who invest in the city would be rewarded down the road. Michael Bagtas, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA—Mayor Isko Moreno on Thursday urged call center executives to open offices in his city, offering the possibility of years-long tax holidays and automated transactions with government.

Businesses that will construct 20-floor buildings can be exempted from paying real estate taxes for 15 years, Moreno told leaders of the country’s business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in a gathering in Taguig.

BPOs that will commit to hiring only Manila residents at offices based in the capital will enjoy the same benefit, he said.

“For 15 years wala akong mahihita sa inyo pero on the 16th year I can earn more because you already built properties there. Hindi niyo na maaalis 'yung building niyo doon,” the mayor said.

“Manila can also earn more kasi may polisiya ako na dapat 70 percent ng empleyado taga-Maynila,” he said. “Napataas ko ang purchasing power nila, nabawasan ko ang mga kriminal, dagdag na taxpayer pa ng bansa.”

Moreno earlier delivered the same proposal before the country's top tycoons in separate dinner meetings hosted by shipping magnate Doris Magsaysay-Ho and Kapamilya broadcaster Kim Atienza.

The 44-year-old mayor also touted the capital’s one-day processing of business permits, and said that ease of doing business could further improve by turning Manila into a “smart city.” 

“We are now in the process of digitalizing data,” he said. “I want you to be able to pay your taxes in the middle of the night, in the comforts of your own home.”

After promoting Manila’s achievements and plans under his leadership, Moreno shifted gears to “begging” BPO leaders to give the capital “a second chance.”

“Tulungan ninyo kami. Give us your help. Give us another chance. We cannot do it alone,” he said.

“We have so many graduates, we just have to train them.”

Moreno said it was necessary to “beg” the business community for jobs and investments because these would fuel his administration’s social amelioration programs.

“Papataasin ko muna ‘yung pamumuhay ng mga tao,” he said.

The big plans for Manila are “not just big promises,” Moreno told ABS-CBN News.

“Wala tayong pinapangako sa kanila,” he said. “It’s basic. Give us jobs, we’ll give you ease of doing business.”

“Basic lang ’yun. Hindi lang kasi naririnig sa iba ’yun kaya ’pag tinitingnan mo parang ang laking ng pangako. Hindi. Walang pangako,” he said.

Instead of promises, Moreno concluded his remarks with a business pitch that was both an invitation and a fair warning: “Heads up, ’pag hindi kayo sumama sa Manila ngayon, mapag-iiwanan kayo.”