TOP government officials in Western Visayas are pushing for a unified plan for the region’s economic recovery amid the crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson recently met with fellow governors along with mayors and representatives of highly urbanized cities in the region.

The provincial government, in a statement, said the leaders agreed during the meeting that their unity will bring back the region’s economy slowly but surely, as they work together for economic revitalization and recovery.

They also expressed confidence that among the regions in the country, Western Visayas has the best chance to recover because the local government units (LGUs) and their constituents have been very cooperative in the implementation of health protocols.

As of June 15, the region has a total of 147 confirmed Covid-19 cases and is presently under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

The majority of positive patients have repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs).

They agreed to jumpstart the economy and provide jobs to lessen the unemployment rate, as well as implement projects through a public-private partnership, it added.

Provincial Consultant on Economic Affairs Alfredo Benitez said that the region incurred about P20 billion worth of losses in terms of its gross regional domestic product (GRDP).

Earlier, the local business sector projected that for Negros Occidental alone, three major industries are seen to incur about P14.7 billion in opportunity losses within the first six months of the year due to the pandemic.

Based on the projection of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), the service sector will incur the biggest opportunity losses or the value that is supposed to be generated or realized under normal circumstances, amounting to P12 billion from January to June this year.

This sector includes real estate, rent, retail, public advertisement, banks, lending, insurance, telecommunications, transport, trading, tourism and business process outsourcing (BPO).

For the industry sector, which includes mining, quarrying, manufacturing, factory, construction, electricity and water, the MBCCI projected a six-month opportunity loss of P1.75 billion.

The group further projected that the agriculture sector, including fishery and forestry, will incur the lowest amount of opportunity losses, at almost P1 billion.

To recover, the business chamber proposed an economic rehabilitation plan to the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental.

Their proposed actions for the economic recovery of the province are summarized into five major points.

These included pouring in of government infrastructure projects, extending cash assistance and wage subsidy once more, the need for new job opportunities, re-capitalizing employers or businesses through loans, and building up industries.