AMID the impending change in the administration at the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, a local business group has expressed optimism that the push to spread development toward the rural areas will continue under governor-elect Eugenio Jose Lacson.
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said they expect that Lacson will sustain the gains initiated by outgoing Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., particularly those geared toward inclusive growth.
Lacson, who will be working with outgoing Third District Representative Alfredo Abelardo Benitez as his consultant on economic development, earlier assured that he will push for more infrastructure projects outside Bacolod City and bring in more investors to the province.
Carbon said it is good that the new governor’s thinking is on business and investment because that is what Negros Occidental needs.
“We are bullish with the new set of provincial officials especially with Lacson as governor and Benitez on the side,” he said, adding the former congressman whose horizon, exposure and experience are so wide will not just talk about basic services like garbage and traffic.
“Instead, he (Benitez) will talk about bringing in investments and employment to the province," the business leader added.
The business chamber, composed of at least 150 member-companies and over 20 business associations in Negros Occidental, has been pushing for bringing in investment to the agricultural areas, including fishery, in the province.
The MBCCI has recognized that since private investments are poured in the urban areas, it should be compensated by public investments of national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs) among rural areas.
While the business chamber is helping to prepare local startups and their products through seminars, trainings and trade events, the government should also work on bringing investments and developments like infrastructure to the rural areas, it said.
Carbon pointed out that the 104 million Filipinos is actually a huge market. “We keep on thinking about export while there are still opportunities locally including here in Negros Occidental.”
“We are thinking of developing our home, resources and domestic market for us to become stable before thinking of other countries,” he said.
While it is upbeat for the next administration to prioritize development in the rural areas, the business group, for its part, assured that it will continue to collaborate with the provincial government.
“We will constantly make our doors open,” Carbon said, adding there is a need for the province to strengthen its legislation on public-private partnerships, which will serve as legal basis for long-term joint ventures.