TWO business chambers in Negros proposed to the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) to make Negros Island a special area for development on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte ’s action to dissolve the two-year old region.
The Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) and the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI), in a joint statement on Wednesday, August 9, said they respect the decision of the President.
On Monday, August 7, Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 38, revoking the creation of Negros Island Region (NIR) provided under EO 183 signed by former president Benigno Simeon Aquino III in 2015.
The EO said the establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects for funding.
The joint statement, signed by MBCCI chief executive officer Frank Carbon and NOCCI president Edward Du, stated that while Negrenses feel that it is good for Negros to have an integrated development plan for faster economic growth and continuous job creation “our national leaders know better.”
“They have a broader macro perspective, and most likely, they know that what is good for the country is also good for Negros Island,” the statement added.
Anticipating the “sad” development, the two business chambers said the move to develop the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental as special area for development was already proposed to Neda Regional Directors Efren Carreon and Ro-ann Bacal of Regions 7 and 6, respectively.
They also suggest that the area for development will be directed and managed by a Negros Island Development Council.
The council should be composed of two governors, two regional directors of Neda, city and municipal mayors, provincial heads of national government agencies, representatives of private and business sector, and representatives of the academe.
Carbon told SunStar Bacolod that by doing such, the island can sustain its development momentum despite its two-component provinces falling under separate regions.
He said there is still a need for “interconnection” between Negros provinces by building road networks to continue creating bigger market and attracting more investments resulting to more jobs and economic developments.
“Revoking the creation of NIR does not lose our trust and confidence towards the policy direction of the President,” Carbon said, pointing out that the local business sector is still upbeat on the anti-criminality campaign of the government especially on illegal drugs.
Peace and order is one vital component in maintaining a business-enabling environment, he said, adding that “we cannot develop an area, like Negros, if there is high criminality.”