Gov’t urged: Accelerate infra programs in Cebu

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva February 27,2017 - 10:35 PM


As the Capitol plans to establish new economic zones in 17 potential sites in the countryside, a local business leader is calling for the acceleration of government infrastructure programs in the province to support further development in Cebu and attract more investors.

“I do believe this program will definitely help the government in the development of the countryside. Government will also be forced to accelerate the infrastructure needed for this,” Ted Locson, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) vice president for external affairs, told Cebu Daily News in an interview yesterday.

The Cebu Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) recently proposed to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) sites in the province that may be suited to host upcoming ecozones.

Countryside development is among Gov. Hilario Davide III’s six key agenda.

The creation of more ecozones is seen to decongest Metro Cebu and bring about local and regional growth by providing economic opportunities to the countryside, create jobs, and increase the people’s income level.

One ecozone for each of Cebu’s seven legislative districts is being eyed by the PPDO, each spanning 100 to 200 hectares, employing 10,000 workers, and generating P10 billion in annual revenues.

The PPDO projected that around P10,000 per square meter will be needed for the development of each ecozone, highlighting the need for private investors to step in.

The sustainability of ecozone operations largely depends on a site’s proximity to sea ports and airports as well as the presence of roads and other links necessary for easy connectivity.

Since all of these facilities are available in the Metro Cebu, development is concentrated here.

There are presently 11 PEZA-registered ecozones in Cebu, mostly located in the highly-urbanized cities and surrounding municipalities comprising the metropolitan.

The PPDO identified Bogo City, Cordova, Toledo City, Minglanilla, Carcar City and Dumanjug as among potential industrial estates; Bantayan and Camotes islands, Badian, and Oslob as possible tourism ecozones; Argao, Dalaguete and Tuburan as agro-tourism zones; and Argao, Dalaguete, as well as Bantayan and Camotes islands as sites for retirement ecozones.

Locson said the chamber is committed to work with concerned local government units to prepare them in handling investors and the training of residents for the work force that will be required.

He added that he looks forward to having this move provide employment as well as trade and business opportunities for the community in the chosen localities.

The PPDO’s proposal to PEZA will still have to be discussed by the Cebu Provincial Development Council (PDC), chaired by Governor Davide, in a special meeting this March.

PEZA officials were in Cebu last week to identify potential ecozone sites in the Visayas amid its thrust to industrialize the whole Philippines.

The final output will be a map that shows all existing and potential ecozones sites in the country as well as the type of industries these can support.

CCCI president Melanie Ng earlier said that the group was “highly energized” by the aggressive and strategic plan to increase the economic viability of the country by coming up with a comprehensive ecozones map.

Ng said this will help investors identify opportunities and spread development to the countryside.

Cebu Provincial Board (PB) Member Miguel Antonio Magpale said there is a need to further promote Cebu as a premier place for investment and show that the proposed ecozones are capable of sustaining multiple businesses.

“It is a bold initiative, but very doable. As we know, Countryside development is one of the developmental agenda of the Province,” said Magpale, who heads the PB committee on trade and commerce.

Magpale added that the provincial government is always open to dialogues with prospective investors as well.

In an attempt to spur development in the countryside, the Board of Investments (BOI) launched a program last year to help towns in the province attract more investors to their respective localities.

The BOI said that while investments continue to pour into Cebu, bringing these to the rural areas remains to be a challenge for stakeholders.

But the agency has reached out to towns in Cebu how to make the most of what they have amid the lack of infrastructure support.

The BOI has partnered with the Cebu Investment Promotions Office (CIPO) in conducting capability building workshops and seminars on crafting the Local Investments Promotion Code for towns in the province.

Starting November last year, the agency went around the province giving trainings to priority areas which are considered “less developed” such as Ginatilan, Malabuyoc, Pilar, Ronda, Samboan and Tudela, among others.

Earlier, the BOI urged local and regional development councils to also explore ways to bring more projects to these areas, eventually decongesting Cebu and its neighboring cities.

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TAGS: CCCI, Cebu, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gov’t, Infra, PEZA, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, urged
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