Regional Director Efren Carreon of the National Economic and Development Authority yesterday said that among the priorities of the Negros Island Region is the improvement of the interconnectivity of its different growth areas to boost economic growth, and reduce its high incidence of poverty.
Carreon presided over the NIR Regional Development Council planning and investment programming workshop attended by Negros Occidental and Oriental officials at Nature's Village Resort in Talisay City yesterday.
The workshop was held to identify priority NIR programs and projects for funding in the 2017 national budget, he said.
Road and port projects are very important in expanding the interconnectivity of Negros Occidental and Oriental to each other, and with neighboring islands, he said.
Carreon said a study is also being undertaken on alternative areas for the airport in Negros Oriental. The expansion of the Bacolod Silay Airport in Negros Occidental is also expected under a public-private partnership.
Negros Island has a lot of potential for further growth, he said.
Carreon said 13 out of 22 national government agencies that are members of the RDC now have operating regional offices in the NIR.
A RDC resolution has also been passed asking for a presidential proclamation to carve out 500 hectares from the Central Philippines State University reservation area in Brgy. Tagukon, Kabankalan City, to be used for the NIR, he said.
More private sector representation in the NIR RDC is also needed, he said.
Chief Maria Teresa Alambra, of the NEDA Region 7 Planning and Policy Division, who presented a report on the Visayas Spatial Development Framework, said half of the cities that were formerly part of Western Visayas are now in the Negros Island Region.
The Visayas, particularly the cities of Cebu, Bacolod and Iloilo, have established a reputation as a key location for IT-BPM firms, she noted.
Key cities in the Visayas have been attracting investments, particularly in light manufacturing and IT-BPM operations because of the quality of city living they offer to investors and expatriate staff, she said.
Cities like Cebu, Iloilo and Bacolod are particularly enticing to investors because, in addition to being compliant with investor location requirements, they also offer peaceful surroundings, quality accommodations, vibrant night life, and proximity to beach resorts, golf courses, and shopping malls, Alambra added.
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She also pointed out that the Visayas is a top tourist destination of the country, making tourism one of its key economic drivers.
The NEDA vision for the Visayas, which includes the NIR, is to make it have a competitive world-class economy, Alambra said
There are five proposed Visayas regional centers: Metro Iloilo, Metro Bacolod, Metro Tagbilaran, Metro Tacloban, and Metro Ormoc, she pointed out.
These regional centers will serve as regional markets and service centers to several provinces not only in Visayas but Mindanao, as well. They have direct air and sea links to Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Mindanao, and other key destinations in the country, and direct air links to international destinations, she added.
Sixteen identified subregional centers in Visayas are Roxas City, Malay, San Carlos City, Kabankalan City, Estancia, Dumangas, San Jose, Miag-ao, Jordan, Kalibo, Dumaguete City, Bogo City, Toledo City, Tubigon, Catbalogan City, and Calbayog City, Alambra also said.*CPG
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