IN AN economy of a developing country like the Philippines, the top official of Negros Occidental has recognized the important role of the private sector as an engine of growth and development.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, who led the opening of the 11th Negros Business Week at Robinsons Place Bacolod on Saturday, acknowledged Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) for furthering the interest of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the province for more than a decade now.
The annual event is initiated by MBCCI in partnership with the provincial government and other government agencies like the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Lacson said the support of the business group has helped enabled Negrense entrepreneurs both from urban and rural areas.
Indeed, the partnership between the government and private sector cannot be overemphasized, he said, hoping that "the event may remind us all of our mutual responsibility to lead and secure the welfare of our Negrense entrepreneurs."
The 12-day event gathers at least 30 enterprises from different local government units (LGUs) in the province.
Most of these enterprises are from outside Bacolod City assisted by the business chamber and their respective LGUs.
Lacson, in his message, said this year's business week theme "Driving Progress in Harmony" is timely.
"As your new governor, I am here today because I believe that now is the time that we must work together to achieve the utmost potential of our people and province," he said.
Lacson pointed out that while globalization is desired and inevitable, it causes competition.
The governor, however, said he is a believer of the Negrense talent and products. "With proper opportunities and innovation, our products can compete in the local and global market."
During the opening activity, MBCCI officials toured Lacson around the booths showcasing wide-variety of locally produced products, mostly food.
He took pride that the province is gifted with the most fertile soil in the country making food products a logical trade good.
Lacson said it is high time to seriously reinvent to show the world that Negros is more than just sugar.
"It is the place where you can succeed if you try, where a healthy economy can advance by what we make and innovate," he added.
This year's business week is positioned to trigger growth and development towards the rural areas especially agriculture and fishery communities in the province.
It is also part of the group's effort to empower women, mainly enabling them to earn and augment their family's income.
MBCCI believes in giving equal opportunities to men and women, as well as in both rural and urban growth.
Also, it is banking on market-oriented development which means not planting or producing anything that the market does not need.
In Kabankalan City, for instance, the business group said there are many individuals who own parcels of land yet they do not have the capital and skills to start a small farm.
"Through contract growing model, we will teach them how to plant, give them the skills to process the products with added value, package it nicely and help them market," it added.
For his part, MBCCI president Roberto Montelibano thanked the support of various partners for helping the business week to survive for 11 years already.
"From our initial target-LGUs, we are extending this event to every part of Negros Island," he said, adding that "we continue to encourage participating enterprises to continue growing through the support of government and private sector."
Meanwhile, the opening activity was also attended by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Western Visayas Regional Governor Donna Rose Ratilla, DOST-Negros Occidental Provincial Director Allan Francis Daraug, Provincial Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Cristine Mansinares, and Bacolod City Councilor Ana Marie Palermo, among other guests.