The election campaign and the infrastructure drive of the government are expected to fuel spending and the creation of more jobs in Negros Occidental in 2019.
But Church leaders yesterday said they are praying that peace will prevail and that the environment is respected.
Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon said he is hoping for “peace in Negros that is the fruit of justice and truth, respect for life and people's rights.”
He is also praying for a government and leadership that works for the common good and not for self-interest, and a Church that is more listening and compassionate, Buzon said.
San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said he is hoping for a coal-free, environment-friendly Negros in 2019.
Alminaza said he is also praying for a peaceful Negros through good politics brought about by a clean, honest, accountable and meaningful election that is not ruled by political dynasties, for social equality through genuine agrarian reform, and stronger and more participatory grassroot communities composed of economically stable families.
As a Church leader he is praying that Negrenses become more pro-God, people, country and environment, Alminaza added.
Former Gov. Rafael Coscolluela, Negros Occidental provincial consultant on investment promotions, trade and export development, said that since it is an election year, 2019 will be fueled by election spending, the infrastructure building program of the national government, and local government spending.
That will result in jobs and more consumption, which could lead to higher inflation, he said.
In the short term, it will be good for the economy, but we want to see more investments made in agriculture, industry, tourism, and strategic facilities, logistics and services, and less spending on consumer goods, he added.
“Sugar will still play a key role in the province, but we expect a stronger shift to other crops for farmers who cannot adopt farm mechanization or who see an unstable future for the sugarcane industry,” Coscolluela said.
Sugar mills will seek other revenue sources - and possible cost-cutting measures - to remain viable, heal so said.
Prospects for the sugar industry will be mixed depending on production supply, Nicholas Ledesma, president of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations’ Negros-Panay chapter, said .
Lower supply will cause prices to rise, however SRA will balance shortfall with imports, which, if not controlled, may lead to lower domestic farmgate prices, he also said.
“Initial surveys show lower production. We pray the shortfall is not significant,” Ledesma said.
At the rate that our sugar production is going, we will be lucky if we can reach 2 million metric tons by the end of the crop year, Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, said.
“Presently, sugar prices are within the level which is fair to consumers and reasonable to producers. We hope that there will be no fluctuation in sugar prices, and that we can maintain the current prices in 2019,” Rojas said.
“If there will be no long dry spell, and if the weather will cooperate, we are looking forward to improved production next year,” he added.
“The economic prospects for the industry looks very good but unpredictable. It’s either good or bust. Let’s pray it’s for the good,” Manuel Lamata, United Sugar Producers' Federation of the Philippines president, said.*
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