General Santos City has been named the country’s easiest city to start a business by the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.

The ranking was based on the number of procedures, processing days and costs of processing in starting a business.
The list is the latest released by the World Bank Group.

According to the report, it takes an average of just 22 days to complete 17 procedures to obtain a business permit from the local government.

This is 5 days shorter than doing business in Davao City, where it takes 27 days to complete the same 17 procedures.

The two Philippine cities also fared well compared to other countries in East Asia and Pacific, where it takes an average of 37.8 days to complete seven procedures.

GenSan is also ranked third in dealing with construction permits.

It takes 79 days to obtain a construction permit after completing 29 procedures.

General Santos is also ranked 25th among cities in the country in registering a property, the process taking 43 days.

Aerial shot of General Santos City. Pic by Cocoy Sexcion

Aerial shot of General Santos City. Pic by Cocoy Sexcion

In his state of the city address last month, General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera exhorted department heads and city hall employees to streamline processes to attract more investors.

“If problems in putting up business are within the purview of my office and the city government, I assure investors that they will be attended to with proper haste and dispatch,” Rivera said.

In the same report, the mayor said “total capital infused by newly registered businesses in the city already reached P871 million (US$19.7 million), more than P300 million higher from the P535.5 million investments” before he sat as mayor.

Rivera is in his first term as city mayor

In addition, the mayor also revealed that “gross sales receipts of business renewals in the city already reached P42.57 billion for essentials and P28.93 billion for non-essentials.”

The city mayor said the recent report by the World Bank Group only strengthened the reputation of the city, which is now a preferred investment destination.

Proving critics wrong

Rivera is scion to the city’s biggest business conglomerate, the RD Group, with fishing as the backbone of their vast business interests not only in the city but throughout the country as well.

The RD Group is also operating in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, making it the first local company to go multinational in operations.

When he ran for mayor, Rivera was seen as an extension of the business empire and critics fear the family will further dominate local business here.

His father Rodrigo Rivera, president of the RD Group, has so far kept low profile and has not been reported to meddle in the city affairs.

Mayor Rivera, who turned 42 on September 1, said he has been overwhelmed by the interest businessmen are showing in the city.

“We have stepped up linkages and exploratory talks with different chambers of commerce – the likes of the American Chamber of Commerce, the chambers of Japan, Canada and Australia in the country – for possible investment opportunities in our city,” he said.

In an interview in July, Rivera said some local business groups had resisted entry of new investors into the city before he became mayor.

“They don’t want new investors that would compete against them,” he said.

He however declined to identify these local businessmen.

The top 15 cities in the country where it is easiest to start business are, according to rank, General Santos, Davao, Taguig City, Valenzuela City, Lapu Lapu City, Zamboanga City, Cebu City, Marikina City, Mandaluyong City and Pasay City.