MANILA, NOVEMBER 29, 2003  (STAR) Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. received in behalf of the city yesterday the "Most Business-Friendly City" in the Philippines award conferred by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

Belmonte, on his first term as mayor, received a glass trophy from President Arroyo at the 29th Philippine Business Conference (PBC) held at the Manila Hotel.

"You raised taxes and still you were adjudged ‘most business-firnedly!’" Mrs. Arroyo fondly told Belmonte as she congratulated him.

"But Mrs. President, I cut the red tape!" Belmonte retorted.

Mrs. Arroyo earlier this year commended the Quezon City government for posting the highest revenue collections which enabled the city government to construct additional public schools.

This year, Quezon City, the country’s former capital, was adjudged "most business-friendly" by the PCCI, the country’s biggest organization of business and industry leaders led by president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.

Samie Lim, chairman of the 29th PBC, explained that the award goes to local government units in municipality, city and province categories, in recognition of their efforts to soundly implement business-friendly procedures and processes; accountability, transparency and efficiency in administering daily business transactions and methods, and competitive entrepreneurship in their areas.

Meanwhile, Gov. Luis Villafuerte received for Camarines Sur the award for "most business-friendly province" award. — Marichu Villanueva

Continued success for QC livelihood support program Star 11/29/2003

The P16-million Puhunang Pangkabuhayan Sikap Buhay livelihood program initiated by Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has achieved a 100 percent repayment record, a top official of the National Livelihood Support Program (NLSP) said yesterday.

Antonio Ortiz, NLSP executive director and CEO, said that as of yesterday the more than 2,500 beneficiaries of the Sikap Buhay program have fully paid their loans, ranging from P5,000 to P50,000.

Sikap Buhay is a "no-collateral" loan facility extended to poor residents in Quezon City. It was jointly launched two years ago by the city government and NLSP.

The NLSP, through its conduits, has released P16 million for Quezon City entrepreneurs.

"The Sikap Buhay success has caught the attention of commercial banks which are now willing to release funds for poor communities using the Quezon City model," Ortiz said during the distribution of stock certificates at Bulwagang Quezon City Hall.

He said the NLSP has introduced Sikap Buhay as model for microfinancing program in poor communities across the country.

"The NLSP is committed to help Mayor Belmonte and other local chief executives to empower the poor and assist small and medium sized enterprises along with the thrust of poverty alleviation and employment generation," he said.

Ortiz, together with lawyer Alfeo Vivas, president of the Eurocredit Cooperative and Councilor Godofredo Liban III, distributed stock certificates to 178 Eurocredit members in 12 barangays in the city.

The new Sikap Buhay beneficiaries are mostly housewives engaged in various small business such as sari-sari stores, buy and sell, and eateries.

Ortiz said introduction of the livelihood assistance program in poor communities in Quezon City will soon eradicate the existence of loan sharks. – Perseus Echeminada

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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