The Negros-Panay Bridge is seen to catalyze more production and investments in the Visayas region.

Zeno Ronald Abenoja, senior director of the Department of Economic Research of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said one key component to complement with seaports, farm-to-market roads, and railway systems would-be bridges.

Abenoja was in Bacolod City Tuesday, May 15 for the Conference on Gearing Up for External Competitiveness, held at Seda Capitol Central.

"The Negros-Panay Bridge will link different islands as well as production sector to the markets," he said, adding that for the BSP, bridge development projects are important in spurring more production and investments in Western and Central Visayas.

The estimated budget for the construction of the 19-kilometer bridge traversing Negros Occidental, Iloilo, and Guimaras are pegged at $2 billion.

National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director-General Ernesto Pernia earlier said the project is expected to break ground in 2019.

The funding will be sourced from the Official Development Assistance from other countries like Japan, Korea, China, or from the World Bank, the Neda chief added.

The BSP official said the Duterte administration's economic team has identified a lot of infrastructure projects that would help spur business not only in Metro Manila, or Luzon but also in different regions.

Abenoja said the bridge connecting Negros and Panay Island will improve the labor market.

"It will boost production both from agri-processing and manufacturing. This would also redound to better prices because it reduces the transportation cost," Abenoja said.

The agency is also optimistic that it will help lower inflation across Western Visayas.

Thus, it is something beneficial to the region, he said.

Meanwhile, the one-day conference was attended by representatives from academe, business and government sectors in the province.

The agency, through the conference, aims to share with the community the different developments happening in the domestic and global economy.

Abenoja said there are opportunities for the country to grow faster, and become more competitive.

But, there are also risks involved especially for those engaged in foreign exchange, and external transactions, he said.

"We also have experts from the banking community to discuss what is called hedging instrument," Abenoja said, adding that the activity also tackles measures on how to manage foreign exchange transactions.