The very first Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) held in Cebu City on August 11, 2023 highlighted the promising performance and potential of the business community in the Visayas.
In his keynote message, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno lauded the Western Visayas for being the fastest-growing region in 2022, with 9.3 percent growth, followed by Central Visayas with 7.6 percent and Eastern Visayas with 6.8 percent.
“The administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. recognizes this and is fully prepared to support its growth and development in the next five years,” the Finance Chief said.
To boost growth in sectors such as tourism, Finance Secretary Diokno cited that there are 65 infrastructure flagship projects of the PBBM Administration located in Visayas, with an indicative total cost of Php 1.7 trillion.
Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco added that Cebu is now the number one most preferred traveler’s destination in the country, outranking its last year’s tourism performance: “A shining star of tourism, especially post-pandemic, has really been Central Visayas.”
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime J. Bautista added that there are 42 ongoing DOTr projects, which include the Php 17.05 billion New Dumaguete Airport, the Php 9.195 billion New Cebu International Container Port, and the Php 16.9 billion Cebu Bus Rapid Transit.
Meanwhile, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman assured the Visayas business community that the priority areas of the private sector are aligned with the priority expenditures of the administration.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Central Visayas Regional Governor Melanie C. Ng responded positively to the reforms shared by the Economic Development Group in their presentations, especially on public spending, and noted that an increase in government spending means a high multiplier effect that is felt in the economy: “And that’s what we’ve been waiting for.”
*Public-private sector collaboration*
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Joseph J. Capuno stressed, “The private sector and the government are in one mind on how to go about fostering the kind of development that we want in the Region.” He added that by taking advantage of key growth opportunities, “we can create not only more jobs, but also high-quality jobs in the Region.”
Regional Governor Ng noted that tourism, Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM), and creative industries are the key growth sectors in Visayas that the Philippine government should invest in.
“We are Visayans. We are very resilient people. We don’t wait for things to happen. We make things happen,” the Regional Governor said.
The last leg of the Post-State of the Nation Address (SONA) PEB is slated in Laoag City on August 14, 2023.