EDITORIAL: City of Malls and Our Local Economy
At present, Naga City has at least 15 big, medium, and large malls and shopping centers. One more is under construction. Add to this is the almost weekly arrival or passing of truckloads of motorbikes and cars, then you have a picture of progress, development, and a bustling local economy.
If we count the number of universities and colleges in Naga City, one can picture a hurried metropolis of happy, and wealthy people living in a place of abundance, peace, and security. The malls provide a fallacious vision of people financially capable of doing shopping and relaxation. The political comparison with other cities and provinces in the Bicol region is dwarfed by the presence of our malls and shopping centers.
Some government leaders are proud to describe the presence of these big commercial establishments in terms of local employment opportunities. They overshadow the data of the majority number of small farmers, fisherfolks, informal business operators, and ambulance vendors that populate the sides of our city and suburban streets. But wait, let us look deeper at the economic side. There is no formal research study on the complex operation of these malls and shopping centers – their kind and types of goods, commodities, and similar products in their stockrooms and bins. Our local universities and colleges have no report on professional or student research studies on the hidden problems of the trading and merchandising industry as they affect the local economy.
This brings us to the need for policy research on the kinds, numbers, and sources of goods, commodities, and products of these merchandising companies. Where are they coming from? From which province, city, region, or country are they being sourced out: How many percent of their total stocks are composed of these items? What are the fast-moving items in their bins? How many percent of their capital is allotted for their purchasing operations?
The most important is we want to know what product, among those present in their stockrooms and bins, can be produced, made, manufactured, or processed locally in our communities? This study will result in meaningful economic development policies, programs, and projects for our local producers and processors, and training sectors. It can also indicate what education, training, and human resource development strategies are necessary to satisfy the needs for the supply of goods and services of these firms.
Failing to do this will drain our local economy with money and will make us miss the opportunity to utilize these malls and shopping centers as an anchor of our progress and development.