TAGBILARAN CITY – The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Region 7 (Central Visayas) has endorsed a three-point economic agenda to help cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on local government units (LGUs), Bohol Governor Arthur Yap said on Monday.
Yap pushed for the immediate adoption of the economic agenda he crafted as a way to help the local economy back on its feet now that Central Visayas has been downgraded from enhanced community quarantine to general community quarantine status, allowing businesses to resume operations.
Among the agenda is allowing LGUs to borrow from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) under a zero-interest concession for small businesses and water projects.
These projects, Yap said, will assist farmers in increasing food production and enable micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to operate under the new normal.
He also pushed for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to allow debtors to restructure their loans without penalties and surcharges. Normally, he said the BSP imposes a penalty on restructured loans because they are considered as “failed loans”.
Yap said he was also able to convince the RDC-7 Full Council to grab the opportunity to position Central Visayas as the next hub for multi-national companies that are leaving China, citing a published article mentioning four firms that decided to transfer its off-shore operations.
He said that Assistant Secretary Asteria Caberte, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Central Visayas regional director, agreed to take the lead in coordinating efforts in luring investors who are leaving China.
“Unfortunately in the survey, we are losing to Vietnam. The No. 1 country that is harvesting all the companies that are leaving China right now is Vietnam. Second is the Philippines in terms of preference. No. 3 is Indonesia. No. 4 is Thailand,” Yap said.
He said Caberte mentioned during the RDC-7 Full Council video conferencing Monday that his proposal was very timely since locators in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) in Lapu-Lapu City are facing problems.
Yap said Bohol needs the stimulus plan that will tap resources from LBP and DBP loans to fund projects that will be flushed down and lent to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) “because we need to fund the MSMEs”.
“In the meantime, the national agencies must use their funds now to retrain and retool people because if they don’t retrain, retool and readopt people, even if you give them funds, they will not know how to operate,” he said.
Under an interest concession, the interest rate is reduced as compared to commercial rates where the government agency would provide the concessions or through a government grant to a lending bank.
He said LGUs in the region need a stimulus plan that will churn the local economy in the meantime that Congress is still debating on the PHP1.3 trillion-worth of stimulus packages under the Philippine Economic Stimulus Bill. (PNA)