Bohol is Â a strategic location Â for Â golden economic opportunities. in the Central Visayas because of Cebu â€™s economic zone congestion.
Its coastal corridor facing the capital province of the region is Â promising for even new investments and not just spillovers.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regâ€™l. Dir. Efren Carreon cited the most likely investment expansion from Cebu in the Regional Development Council (RDC) mid-term assessment at the Governorâ€™s Mansion here on Friday.
Presided by Gov. Edgar Chatto as the RDC chairman, the priority action Â evaluation gathered the chairpersons of the major RDC sectoral committees and assessed the regionâ€™s performance.
Carreon said the export processing zone, particularly in Mactan, is congested and â€œwe have to identify and push for new areas.â€
Otherwise, not just Cebu but the Central Visayas can â€œlose many opportunities,â€ he said.
And while the regional leaders are working on it, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regâ€™l. Dir. Asteria Caberte liked Tubigon and Clarin to develop as â€œbedroomâ€ towns for Cebu workers.
Unknown to many, Caberte said there are now workers from Mactan export processing zone already housing in Tubigon.
She cited the daily heavy traffic ride from Minglanilla to Lapulapu City that takes three long hours while convenient, cheap sea travel from Tubigon to Cebu City is only more than an hour.
Chatto said the projection of Bohol to save what the region can potentially lose reinforces the economic development agenda for the northwest side of the province.
â€œBesides, the water is in Bohol,â€ Chatto was swift to add, referring to the abundant natural resource which Cebu has long been courting to get from Bohol to feed its industry and people.
Three years from now, Bohol will have a new modern airport of international standard that can give the province a paradigm shift of competitiveness.
â€œLet us sit down and propose these areas for expansions,â€ Carreon said, while disclosing that Cebuâ€™s Naga City has been eyed but investors prefer coastal sites.
The RDC mid-term review focused on schemes which are pivotal to fast-track the agenda implementation, adjust with new priorities and come up with a more updated action plan.
Participants agreed with Chatto that areas made acute by industrialization can lead to outside expansion which, consequently, pursues the connectivity program for the region of islands.
This is, in fact, further pursuing the â€œOne Visayasâ€ spatial development vision, said Chatto who just conferred in Bacolod City with fellow chairmen of RDCs in the now four-region Visayas, including the new Negros Island Region (NIR).
The RDC assessment updated the proposed Loon economic enterprise zone which, once done, will be the first of its kind in the country under the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).
The TIEZA has been created pursuant to the National Tourism Act of 2009, which Chatto had himself authored when he was congressman chairing the tourism committee no less.
Rep. Rene Relampagos, another Boholano heading now the congressional tourism committee, has worked hard to help make the tourism economic zone happen.
According to an RDC sectoral committee, the Loon LGU is submitting the development plan as assisted by the provincial government in coordination with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
The rehabilitation and improvement of the earthquake-damaged Catagbacan international cruise ship port are a critical feature of the plan.
BOHOLÂ LEADS IN
The NEDA reaffirmed in the assessment Boholâ€™s biggest poverty incidence reduction rate in Central Visayas while the region itself sustained an average economic growth of 9% in 2010-2014.
From 40.3% a decade or 10 years ago, Bohol â€™s poverty incidence has gone down to 30.6%, performing better than the regionâ€™s 6% decrease.
Carreon also reported that among all regions, Central Visayas is the fourth biggest contributor to the national economic growth.
At its core, the RDC priority action agenda is aimed at a far higher sustainable economic growth and more dramatic poverty reduction, the NEDA official said.
The assessment tackled multiple concerns under the RDC committees for the economic, social, infrastructure and administration development sectors.
These include resilient agriculture and fishery, core shelter, health, education, energy, water, roads, ports, airports, super inter-province bridges, tourism, jobs, mandatory ethical and accountability seminars for government workers, especially local chief executives, and public land titling, among others.
Although its regional industry roadmap has yet to be most competitive, Central Visayas is the only region working its homework of the ASEAN economic integration, said Caberte who is another useful RDC member from Bohol but presently based in Cebu . (Ven rebo Arigo)