Federalism to speed up E. Visayas infra, tourism, economic devt

MANILA A change in the government system can fix the slow development of Eastern Visayas, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

When power is brought down to the region, the regional government will gain enough foothold to streamline development projects and programs to benefit the Eastern Visayas' economy, DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya said in a news release issued Monday.

This way, regional growth will not be hampered by the national government's bureaucracy, he added.

The economy in Eastern Visayas posted its fastest recorded growth at 12.4% in 2016.

This, however, reversed in 2017 when its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) slumped to 1.8%, far below its 5.2%5.7% target range indicated in the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 20172022.

Contraction was due to declines in electricity, gas and water supply, construction, and mining and quarrying, all of which dragged down the growth of industries in the region.

Malaya said Eastern Visayas is constantly fraught with disasters that storm through the region, causing backlashes in developments.

Another factor hindering the influx of investors is the question of peace and order as the region is notorious for political wars suddenly erupting in different areas, Malaya noted.

Managing disaster and controlling the political clans from dominating certain localities are crucial for the region to prosper. I am confident that with the antipolitical dynasty provision in the new draft constitution, investors will be more inclined to set up businesses in Eastern Visayas, Malaya said.

He said one of the ways to help the economy is to develop infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, airports, seaports and irrigation systems to make cities and provinces in the region more accessible and its agriculture modernized.

The DILG official said tourism is also an area that the region can focus on. In 2015, more than a million tourists set foot in Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Biliran, earning the region at least PHP9 billion.

This is a potential that the region can harness. It is only a matter of how and where the funding will come from, Malaya said.

Article 7, Section 2 of the Consultative Committee's (ConCom) draft Bayanihan Federalism model gives the federated regions exclusive power over infrastructure, tourism and investment, and socioeconomic development planning.

With increased power and revenue share, Malaya said the regional government of Eastern Visayas will be able to bring the area to prosperity under a federal setup.

Eastern Visayas is a promising region, especially when it comes to agriculture and tourism. So a lot of opportunities await the area when we federalize, he said.

To know more about the ways in which the region can find progress, Malaya invited all Visayans to attend the Department's roadshow for federalism. (DILG PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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