Cebu forum set up to attract investors to Visayas regions
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas to hold meet to showcase Visayas’ products, services
The Visayas regions will be given a chance to attract more investors in an investment forum in Cebu tentatively scheduled at the end of the year.
Michael Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, said he would want to make what the Visayas could offer more known to the world.
“We have to showcase what we can offer to the world, what products we have, and what services we can give,” he said in a press conference during a visit to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command in Cebu City last week.
Dino said the investment forum would be held by November or December in Cebu this year.
He said he had already spoken to the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines and the Singapore business group to bring in investors for regions 6, 7, 8 and 18.
The Visayas is composed of four regions, which are Eastern Visayas (Region 6), Central Visayas (Region 7), Western Visayas (Region 8), and Negros Island Region (NIR or Region 18).
Dino said that he was also planning not only to link the regions to the world, but also with one another.
“Even business in Cebu can invest in, for example, Catbalogan under a brotherhood program. Iloilo can invest in Cebu and vice versa,” he explained.
He said he saw potential in the provinces in the Visayas, particularly Samar, which he visited only recently.
“Samar is beautiful. It was my first time to go (there) and I saw very big potential. It’s just a matter of giving them the opportunity,” he said.
Dino recently visited Eastern Samar, considered as among the poorest provinces in the country, upon the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It was sad and happy. It was sad because I saw the plight of our marginalized sector there. That’s why the directive of the president was to really go to region 8, particularly Eastern Samar, because it’s the poorest of the poor,” he said.
During his three-day visit, he also went to Western and Northern Samar as well as Leyte.
He said he was also exploring the possibility of setting up more economic zones in provinces outside Cebu.
The export processing zone in Mactan, he said, was already congested and other provinces in the Visayas could benefit from more of these establishments built here.
“(The problem with Cebu) is we don’t have enough area. Why don’t we go to the other regions? The minimum wages in those areas is lower so I think that is an opportunity in itself,” said Dino.
However, he said there might be a problem with accessibility in these areas but that could be addressed later on.
“We have to help them compete (in the market). To do that, we have to give them accessibility,” he said.
In Central Visayas alone, the Board of Investments logged a total of P25.6 billion worth of investments in 2015.
BOI Cebu registered 26 projects last year including eight in mass housing, six in renewable energy, five in manufacturing, three in tourism, and one each for shipping, agribusiness and Public-Private-Partnership.
According to a recent report by the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Philippines grew at a slower rate from 7.8 percent in 2014 to 4.8 percent in 2015.
The manufacturing and agriculture sectors are seen to help the region rebound its economic performance in 2016.
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