Yu back as investment czar, ordered to grow BPO sector

By: Marites Villamor Ilano May 31,2016 - 10:17 PM

Grow the information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sector and address all concerns to ensure that the sector’s potential to generate jobs is maximized.

These were the marching orders of incoming Cebu City Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña to investment promotion expert Joel Mari S. Yu, who will be coming in as the mayor’s business and economic adviser effective July 1.

“Tommy (Osmeña) has asked me to come back and help the city… I’m coming in to be his point man for business and economic development. Anything that is related to making business grow, making the economy grow and attracting investors – which I have been doing for the past 42 years – that is right up my alley,” Yu said during a press conference for the Slingshot Cebu forum for start-ups.

Yu, a former regional director and later assistant secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), ran the defunct Cebu Investment Promotions Center (CIPC) for nearly 20 years until it was shuttered in late 2013 after outgoing Mayor Michael L. Rama refused to release the annual subsidy for its operations.

He was instrumental in developing the information technology (IT-BPO) sector in Cebu as well as in crafting and implementing the marketing and investment promotion plan for the South Road Properties (SRP).

Yu currently provides consultancy services to the DTI and US Agency for International Development (USAID).

He told reporters yesterday that one of the first instructions of Osmeña is to grow the BPO sector in Cebu and maximize its potential in generating employment.

The sector currently employs about 130,000 people, just 16 percent higher than the 112,000 workers counted by CIPC when it closed in 2013.

“We want to bring that to as close as 200,000 people in three years,” he said.

Yu said Osmeña also wants to look at the aggravating factors that make people shy away from working for BPOs.

“He (Osmeña) wants to solve the issues that have to do with transportation, security of the BPO workers and their housing requirements,” Yu said.

He said they would inventory all possible lodging space in all barangays surrounding the IT economic zones, such as the Cebu IT Park and Cebu Business Park, and standardize facilities and rates.

They will also arrange shuttle services for BPO workers to and from their workplaces as well as address security issues to minimize mugging incidents.

“The idea is to make it very easy for them to work in the call centers,” Yu said.

He said he would need the support of the DTI and the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for IT (Cedfit) to further grow the sector.

Osmeña also reportedly wants to reopen the CIPC, but only if Yu would run it. Yu, however, said he was no longer inclined to take on a regular job but was fine with assisting visitors of the city government and prospective investors.

Yu yesterday met with some Bank of China officials, who came here to invite the city government to take part in an international forum on investments in Shanghai in October.

Bank of China, which has been operating in Manila since 2004, is also looking at opening a branch in Cebu, Yu added.

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TAGS: BPO, Cebu, Cebu City, investments, Joel Mari Yu, outsourcing

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