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PIA Press Release

Western Visayas has more room to step up economy - NEDA

Iloilo (26 January) -- Western Visayas has more room to step up the economy in 2010 because of its major accomplishments in agriculture and infrastructure, NEDA 6 Director Ro-an Bacal said.

In rice production the region ranks second with a 4.09 percent increase in 2009, while it ranks first as far as area harvested, with a 2.94 percent increase, according to Bacal.

The NEDA chief cited that based on the report of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as to livestock production, the region ranks first in carabao, third in hogs, fifth in chicken and sixth in cattle, such that producers should recognize that the market for this is right here in the region, being at the heart of the country.

"This location gives us access to big markets of Manila and the emerging markets of Mindanao," Bacal said.

Meanwhile, Bacal said the number eight rank for vegetables in the region showed that the potentials for this are big but are not yet fully tapped where lands are especially conducive for production, like those in Negros Occidental.

She said that what is needed is the mobilization of people to begin shifting from traditional crops to new commodity like vegetables, coupled with training and government interventions.

She also noted that the fisheries sector needs bigger support as the region is the major supplier of fish needed by the country.

On the other hand, Bacal said there are major milestones of the Arroyo administration that impact on the wider potentials for growth in the region, like infrastructures and jobs generation.

In infrastructures, the airports of International standards and upgraded ports constructed and operationalized through the years of the Arroyo governance have opened major investments and opened highest domestic and foreign trading for Western Visayas, Bacal added.

The rehabilitation of almost all irrigation systems in strategic areas in the region, along with the completion and near completion n of major road networks and bridges have reduced travel time and costs.

Bacal said that while the major cities in the region, including Bacolod and Iloilo, are primary target areas for investors in telecommunications, there is still need for more facilities and buildings to host call centers and other companies, on top of the need to step up power supply.

"With the Northern Panay Transmission Lines more than 80 percent completed, we hope to step up power generation and distribution, and get more investors," Bacal said.

The NEDA director also said that while the region boasts of its massive tourism industry and potentials yet to be tapped, some other aspects related to it must be developed to sustain positive growth and genuinely impact on the economy.She said that while tourists come for festivals, they also look around the edifices, churches, old houses and other traces of culture and heritage, of which towns and cities in the region have distinctly varied flavors.

Hence, she said, the development plans of LGUs should include interventions and programs to highlight these potentials which are beyond economic indicators. (PIA6/ESS) [top]

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