THE National Economic Development Authority (Neda) 7 sees no major change in Central Visayas’ economic targets, even with the separation of Negros Oriental as contributions of Cebu and Bohol to the regional economy are already substantial.

“There is no data yet as to provincial contribution because gross regional domestic product is computed on a regional scale. But based on manufacturing, tourism, construction and IT-BPO data, the substantive shares come from Cebu and Bohol,” said Neda 7 Director Efren Carreon.

He assured that economic interactions between Negros Oriental and the rest of Central Visayas will continue despite the creation of the new region, noting that necessary trade links are already well established, supported by good transport links through air, land and sea.

Central Visayas expects to grow by nine to 10 percent this year.

“The creation of Negros Island Region would mean more focused resources and easier access to resources allocated for the region. In terms of growth, Region 7 can always continue and sustain the momentum with less players but focused on compensating on the loss of one player,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 Asteria Caberte.

President Aquino approved last May 29 the separation of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental from their respective regions to create the Negros Island Region.

The move, however, earned mixed reactions from top business leaders here.

“Instead of creating new region, consider realignment first,” said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ma. Teresa Chan in a phone interview yesterday.

Government expenses

Chan instead favors regrouping of the regions because any new region, new province, or new city or town would entail additional government expenses for new offices and yearly additional operating expenses, budgets she said should be dedicated to more priority sectors of the country.

“But if the creation would bring incremental advantages especially to Negros and neighboring provinces then we will support it,” said Chan.

“Personally, I’m not for further fragmentation of the country into many small regions,” said Cebuano economist Perry Fajardo, who also sits as the executive director of Cebu Business Club.

He explained that it may not be cost effective to administer small regions, noting that each region has to be provided with complete set of regional government offices with all their trimmings. Secondly, a region needs to have some integrating factors to operate as a single economic unit where each part contributes to each other’s growth.

“I’m not sure how the economy of the two Negros provinces are that integrated. I’m not saying that all the regions now existing, including the Central Visayas region, are fully integrated. I’m just saying that it should be one of main things to be considered in delineating a region,” Fajardo said. “But if the main objective is for the new region to have more share of the national government financial resources, then its good for the people there. But what is given there must be taken from the others.”

Gordon Alan Joseph, president of Cebu Business Club thinks Negros Oriental’s separation will not have short to medium term effects to the region’s economy. “I don’t think it will affect growth. I may be wrong, but it looks like the main reason for the consolidation is political,” said Joseph.