Traders, officials urge gov’t action on BPO bill

Posted on January 11, 2012

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Business leaders and local officials sought action from the national government on the US bill prohibiting American call centers from outsourcing their services overseas.

While Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Eric Ng Mendoza is optimistic that the bill will not be passed into law, he said its approval may cause a temporary slowdown in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.

“It’s a lot more expensive to operate call centers in the US and they cannot afford not to be competitive; otherwise, they will lose and close shop,” Mendoza said.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said if the bill is approved, it will hurt the local BPO industry.

He said he will write President Benigno Aquino III to support a plan to create a lobby group that would lobby against passage of the bill.

He said the City Council should pass a resolution for the same purpose.

Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said he will still consult with the council on the issue.

Young said the national government will determine who will be part of the lobby group.

He said it will be wise if the government coordinates with the BPO firms instead of sending their own lobby group.

At the Capitol, Provincial Board (PB) members Arleigh Sitoy and Rimobapil Holganza said they will sponsor a resolution calling on Congress to lobby against the passage of the US bill.

Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said the bill may affect 50,000 BPO employees, a lot of whom came from neighboring towns to work in Metro Cebu.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the bill should serve as a challenge to the BPO sector.

“We should believe that the Filipino has the talent and the industry to meet all challenges head on and continue our quest for excellence especially in the BPO industry, bill or no bill. Barack or no Barack,” she told reporters.

But Exequiel Sarcauga, Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 7 assured the BPO industry in the country would not see its near end yet.

“It is not only the United States that is outsourcing its economic activities. Other regions like Europe is also doing that,” he said.

He said the bill sends a signal to the national government and its agencies to look for substitute BPO clients other than the US.

Sarcauga also advised the public to start preparing, instead of panicking.

“As early as now, we should plan alternative schemes and strategies on how we could sustain the business process outsourcing in our country,” he said.

He said he also agrees with Congress’ call to create a lobby group that will bar the passage of the said bill.

“We should remind them once again of the reasons why they started outsourcing outside of the US, which is because they are seeing advantages by way of lesser costs,” he said.

He said the bill will have substantial economic repercussions in the region since the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry is one of the primary growth drivers of Region 7, aside from the service and tourism industries.

“If there is such an effect, as early as today, we should look for certain alternatives so as not to make the impact as damaging or as strong as we are expecting it to be. Let us not rely mainly on the US,” he told Cebu Daily News. /Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac, Reporter Aileen Garcia-Yap and Correspondents Carmel Loise Matus and Patricia Andrea Pateña

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