Keeping businesses alive (Part two)
EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2020 - 12:00am

I received quite a lot of feedback on my column, Keeping Businesses Alive, published last week. In that piece, I discussed the stimulus program unveiled by the Makati City government for local businesses. I urged other LGUs to have similar programs.

Many businesses – small, medium and even the bigger ones – are struggling to stay afloat and they need all the help they can get.

I’m sharing here some of the comments I received from local businesses. I hope our local authorities hear their pleas.

One Quezon City-based businessman said that, while the city has a similar program for businesses, its implementation is taking too slow.

Said the businessman: “We learned about Quezon City’s program on or about July 15 with July 31 as the deadline for submission of applications. We applied and completed the submission of its requirements last July 27.”

But nothing has happened, he said.

“In other words, it has been already almost 50 days since we complied with the submission of the requirements and we have not yet received the promised support. As the recipient, we could not probably demand immediate or fast action but there is a saying – ‘Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo?’ It also has to be mentioned that this kind of delay is an open invitation to unscrupulous people to act as influence peddlers.”

From a Makati-based businessman

In Makati, meanwhile, some businessmen lament the continued imposition of interest and penalties on taxpayers, saying this will not help businesses at this time.

A Makati-based reader commented: “Why does Makati, the richest among the cities in the country, continue to slap interest and penalties on taxpayers. In my case, on  transfer taxes which cannot be paid within 60 days from the notarial date of the Deed of Absolute Sale? This is despite the fact that it falls within the period of the lockdown, and with no available transportation; and in July, with limited transportation and with most offices closed or are operating in limited capacities.”

He said he was not given any reason why he was slapped interest and surcharge. “Anyway, I still paid for it because what can we do, it will continue to incur more interest and surcharges.”

The reader wondered why Makati cannot take the cue from other government agencies and city governments.

“How come other government agencies are all out in helping alleviate the problems brought about this pandemic.  The Land Transportation Office has waived all penalties for late renewals; I  read  Parañaque has waived penalties on payment of all types of taxes. Power and water utilities, banks, credit cards waived penalties for late payments and even offer deferred payment schemes to help the public cope.”

Clearly, these are very real nuances on the ground that need to be addressed.

La Campana Fabrica de Tabacos Inc.

Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of La Campana Fabrica de Tabacos Inc., founded by the late Wong Chu King, the cigarette tycoon who hailed from Fujian, China.

La Campana started as a small cigarette factory in Manila and grew to be the oldest cigarette company in the country.

It started in post-war Philippines in 1945. Last year, the company formally turned over a new leaf by venturing into other businesses. It’s no secret that Japanese cigarette giant JTI bought La Campana’s successor, Mighty Corp., three years ago.

What started as La Campana has morphed into a new and fully diversified conglomerate, venturing into different businesses, including property development, warehousing and cold storage, which is fast growing with many multinationals and local players as locators.

The Wong Chu King family held a virtual anniversary celebration which started with a mass and the launch of an e-book about Wong Chu King’s life.

“In 1945, Wong Chu King, together with his honest and trusted friends Ong Lowa, Baa Dy and Ong Pay –whom he met during his tenure as a cigarette salesman –registered La Campana Fabrica de Tabacos Inc. on Sept. 20, 1945 at the Securities and Exchange Commission with its first factory at 775-778 Tayabas St., Manila,” according to the book Wong Chu King.

The rest, as they say, is history. The company grew through the decades until its diversification into other industries.

Indeed, from one cigarette company, Wong Chu King’s legacy lives on – burning like a cigarette, this time in a variety of many other businesses.

Iris Gonzales’ email address is eyesgonzales@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com

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