Arangkada Negros-A A +A
Monday, June 18, 2012
THE Sugarcane Act bill could just as well be the Negrense version of the Arangkada Philippines, the reform package initiated by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines on December 2010.
Former finance secretary and current co-chair of the Makati Business Club Roberto de Ocampo asserted two years ago that Arangkada will lay the groundwork for the economy to grow twice as fast in succeeding years. The central problem that has stunted growth is the lack of infrastructure.
We have an excellent road infrastructure, but I see no mass transportation system such as railways. Silay Mayor José Montelibano planned to build an MRT and has even gotten a Sangguniang Panglungsod resolution backing him up. I wonder what happened to the project, though. The plan remained as a… plan?
Modern, efficient ground transportation infrastructure facilitates the efficient movement of goods and people, while their absence increases transport cost and ultimately harms country competitiveness.
While DPWH greatly increased its budget in recent years, too much spending has gone into barangay roads, built for political purposes, while the national road network has barely increased in two decades, (although traffic on national roads has multiplied).
De Ocampo called on leaders in government and captains of industry to produce a common vision. He said that if the country wants to excel in tourism, it must determine to go into international marketing.
The Department of Tourism trotted its slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” and advertised accordingly in CNN and in London, United Kingdom among other places. What are our fun, preferably, green places in Negros Occidental? How are these sites being aggressively promoted beyond the flyers that we see at the airport and during Panaad?
De Ocampo touched an “ouch” moment on the quarrying of gravel and sand. In mining, it must go beyond just extracting raw materials like in gravel and sand operations but go into manufacturing end products out of the country’s minerals.
I heard that mining will soon re-open in Negros. But where will these minerals go? Out of the country to help industrialize countries like China and for Negros to remain an agricultural backwater? And can we see the so-called “responsible mining” in practice along the way?
In the farm sector, De Ocampo rallied the sector to move into agro industries, not simply confined to growing food. Well, at least the Sugarcane bill is going in the right direction. It envisions sugarcane to go beyond sugar and establish forward linkages with industrial products such as bioplastics and agrofuel.
Well that these industries are also build here in the province.
Other must-do recommendations suggested by experts included the hammering out of a Philippine manufacturing strategy that includes agribusiness, linking domestic industries with export industries and diversification of industrial products.
John Casey, president of the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, pinpointed seven big winner sectors that can generate more investments to the country. These sectors are infrastructure, agribusiness, business process outsourcing, creative industries, manufacturing and logistics, mining and tourism, medical travel and retirement.
At least our BPO is competing with other highly urbanized cities such as Cebu and Metro-Manila, with call centers establishing their business in Bacolod.
How about retirement? I talked to several expat retirees. They like the laid-back atmosphere in Bacolod, and especially the province. However, they see no fun with the frequent—and unexplained—brownouts in Bacolod. Or waste collection that are so erratic. How about traffic rules that go unenforced?
Will we see our province do an arangkada (take-off)? Gov. Alfredo Marañon and Cong. Albee Benitez might somehow make our day. As for local other politicians, let’s just say I’ll take it with a grain of salt.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 18, 2012.