Gov. Edgar Chatto is working hard and quick for 2016 budget of Bohol priorities, getting them focused in a Manila dialogue among national and regional economic, budget and development officials.
There are certain plans not obviously urgent and out of current pressing Regional Development Council (RDC) priority discussions, but Chatto even have their possible funding for feasibility studies pursued.
In the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Regional Development Council (RDC) dialogue on Tuesday, he pushed, among other top priorities, for the national counterpart fund for local roads.
The Bohol leader heads the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) technical working group in proposing for the National Incentive for Local Roads Program (NILRP).
NEDA Dir. Gen. Arsenio Balisacan, also the socio-economic secretary, presided over the important consultative conference inside the NEDA Board Room.
The governor batted for more support to the tourism road convergence program and a policy review in the prioritization and allocation of farm-to-market road (FMR) rehabilitation and maintenance.
This scope of FMR works by linear meters has not been nationally allocated since the implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991.
The NEDA-DBM-RDC forum also tackled the convergence program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and RDC for the Danahon double barrier reef and other common areas between the Visayas islands.
The four-province marine span and immense economic value of Danahon affects such coastal areas in Bohol as Bien Unido, Ubay and the island town of Pres. Garcia as well as in Cebu, Leyte and Southern Leyte.
Moreover, the NEDA-DBM-RDC discussion focused on the following: Strong Department of Education (DepEd) and local government unit (LGU) partnership in the implementation of the K+12 and senior high school, as well as the establishment of a national agriculture high school in San Pascual, Ubay; Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) funding for the new Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH); Fund support for infrastructure and equipment of all municipal rural health units and barangay health stations; Fund release for irrigation projects that expand the areas of coverage; Â Release of remaining funds for school building rehabilitation program; Release of additional funds for post-disaster rehabilitation of infrastructures, including tourism facilities like the Chocolate Hills Complex, shelter and livelihood; and Cruise ship port development in Catagbacan , Loon.
SUPPORT FORÂ FEASIBILITY STUDY
Chatto pushed in the discussion for funding of the feasibility studies for the proposed Bohol-Cebu multi-use bridge, Ubay airport development, and Tagbilaran port â€“ Panglao island boulevard and tourism hub.
The ambitious and extravagant bridge has not been considered urgent and not among the pressing RDC matters, but Chatto had the NEDA-DBM-RDC dialogue taking up certain past RDC plans and pushing for their endorsement for feasibility study funding.
As current RDC chair for Central Visayas, the governor picked the bridge plan from among the previous RDC proposals and defended it in the high-level meeting, which also had NEDA Regional Dir. Efren Carreon and RDC-7 private sector representative Argeo Melisimo in full support.
â€œWe pushed the Cebu-Bohol bridge project in the dialogue for possible study financing now that the new Bohol airport construction is imminently starting,â€ Chatto said.
Bohol and Central Visayas development planners have agreed that the modern airport of international standard is urgent for Bohol while the far costly and technically extensive bridge linking two island provinces can wait.
This recent development during the NEDA-DBM-RDC conference to pursue the feasibility study for the super bridge has made â€œwater under the bridgeâ€ the doubt that the project cannot assume a concrete form, although the start of its realization may take a decade or more from now.
The Tagbilaran-Panglao boulevard plan, on the other hand, has also to be studied as a proactive move while heavy traffic has been foreseen on account of the new Bohol airport in Panglao, which is set for finish in 2017 after its construction contract that effects right this month.
The proposed Ubay airport can generate flying school investment and create a new aviation learning center in the country while complementing the agro-industry growth in the vast area the other side of the province.
It can also accommodate small chartered flights, including those carrying tourists.
The site links to the Carood watershed area covering the coastal towns of Anda, an emerging tourism destination, Mabini, Candijay and Guindulman, further to Alicia and Pilar which are rice granaries.
Ubay is a neighbor of Talibon town, both in the Second District, where an economic zone has been proposed.
In the Third District at the eastern side of the province, Jagna is also eyed for a similar economic activity under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
The one pursued for Loon, which is in the first District, is an eco-tourism enterprise zone under the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).
NEDAâ€™S FIRSTÂ IN P-NOY TIME
In a broader perspective, the dialogue at the same time involved the NEDA, DBM and the three Regional Development Committees (RDComs) for the Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao—a first by the NEDA in this administration of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III.
There were other national agencies engaged in the meeting, presenting their priorities for 2016 after an opening general briefing.
Break-out sessions followed, involving simultaneous cluster RDCom dialogues with NEDA and DBM officials and technical people on rotation at their specified time which, Chatto said, made the consultative process efficient and effective.
Chatto at the same time represented the RDCom-Visayas, which consists of the three RDCs of Eastern, Central and Western Visayas or Regions 6, 7 and 8, respectively.
Alone in having the RDCs given the opportunity to present their regional priorities â€œas oneâ€ before the national government to start this early the budgeting process for 2016, the dialogue was tremendously useful, Chatto said.
Days to the dialogue, Chato, as chair of RDC-7, 2 convened with his two Visayas counterparts in a NEDA Board-RDCom for the Visayas meeting in Tacloban City, during which they charted the destiny of the three regions under a â€œOne Visayasâ€ economic vision.
While a number of them are new, the major priorities include specific projects and programs already in the agenda and budget folders of the different implementing or assisting national agencies.
The Gallares relocation and modernization program, for example, has already an approved half-a billion-peso fund this year for its first-phase implementation under the Department of Health (DOH).
The governor pursued in the NEDA-DBM-RDC dialogue its multi-year fund authority starting the 2016 budget for the final next phase of the project until its completion.
It is important to secure earlier support in the 2016 budget considering the change of leadership on account of the presidential election next year—and have the approved allocations carried over the next administration, Chatto said.
Thru the NEDA, DBM and other cabinet officials, the governor again thanked the president for consistently providing for Boholâ€™s needs, growth. (Ven rebo Arigo)