The Valenzuela City government secured a back-to-back award as the Most Business-Friendly City from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in an online ceremony held Thursday.

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Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

During the 46th Philippine Business Conference and Expo, PCCI officials conferred this year’s award under the Highly Urbanized category to Valenzuela City after it was recognized as innovator and “disruptor” in the public governance realm for its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response.

“This year’s search for PCCI’s Most-Business Friendly Local Government Unit spotlights on the sustained innovative actions by LGUs (local government units) to help the business sector – the sector which experienced the direct blow from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the local government said.

In his remarks, Mayor Rex Gatchalian said that the city found “silver linings and opportunities in this pandemic” as they realized that the lockdowns imposed pushed the city to go “into the digital world.”

“We realized that the migration towards governance over online platforms is now the new normal… Whenever the private sector comes into the picture, we know it is more efficient, we know it is more data-driven and demand-driven,” Gatchalian said.

This is the second consecutive year for Valenzuela City to be recognized as the most business-friendly city in Metro Manila after winning last year. Aside from that, the city is also a PCCI Hall of Famer after also being recognized in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

Among the initiatives taken by the local government to help the business sectors amid the ongoing pandemic are an online payment system called “Paspas Permit” that allows business owners to pay their dues at the comfort of their homes; building own COVID-19 laboratories that will prioritize city employees for the virus testing; and extending support to small enterprises through free Facebook advertisement.

“You don’t have to come to city hall to get your business permit, to pay your real property tax, and to transact your local civil registry requirements. In fact, we are taking it further. From Zoning requirements all the way to Health Cards and Sanitation Permits, you can now pretty much transact everything in the newly updated Paspas Permit module,” Gatchalian said.

“In Valenzuela City, we have found a mechanism to sustainably open the companies… We will be testing the workforce not just for post-infection antibodies but for current infection [as well],” he added, this time regarding the city’s own COVID-19 lab that processes the tests conducted for workers.

To help small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in the city, the local government partnered with two Facebook groups which curate small business owners in a bid to help them reach their target market and wider audience.

“The local government unit will be in charge of advertising, boosting, and placing banner ads for these existing Facebook pages,” Gatchalian said.

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