THE lack of better inter-modal transportation sets back island provinces from flourishing in terms of trade and investments, a top business official said yesterday.

Jose Ng, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Visayas vice president, said infrastructure remains a key concern for growth among businessmen in the Visayas, given its archipelagic nature.

“This is one the setbacks in Visayas because it’s very difficult to move from one island to another. That’s why we need more infrastructure that can improve connectivity of these island provinces,” said Ng during the press conference of the Visayas Area Business Conference (VABC) attended by top business officials from Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and Ormoc Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ormoc Business Chamber).

But amid this challenge, the business community in the Visayas is optimistic that more investments will be redirected or spread to the regional areas, as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement to bring more investments to other regions outside Metro Manila.

“They (investors) have no place to go in Manila. Where will these investments go? Where will businessmen put up their businesses? They want to expand but there is no more place for them to expand. So they have no choice but to go to other regions,” said Ng.

PCCI is mounting the 25th VABC to be held for the first time in Ormoc City.

Anchored on the theme “Change is Here,” the three-day business conference on Sept. 14 to 16 hopes to attract 500 delegates coming from various sectors—government agencies, local government units and the business community.

Organizing the conference is the Ormoc Business Chamber, led by president Jude Abenoja, who said the VABC is an opportunity for island provinces in the Visayas to come together to promote the Visayas Islands as the next big investment bloc in the country.

Conference guests

He said Visayas is in a better position to showcase its strengths to the investor community, banking on President Duterte’s agenda on region-wide economic development. It will also be a venue for Eastern Visayas to showcase its resilience in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda.

Abenoja said the chamber has invited Vice President Leni Robredo and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Micheal Lloyd Dino to grace the business conference.

The Ormoc Business Chamber has also invited cabinet secretaries of different government agencies like agriculture, informations and communications technology, tourism, trade and industry, science and technology as resource speakers of the business conference together with other business experts from the private sector.

This year’s VABC, which has a budget of P2.9 million, will have discussions on growth opportunities in the areas of agriculture, tourism, human development, small and medium-sized enterprise development and information and communications technology in the Visayas.

“VABC is an opportunity to exchange good business practices for business matching, networking and promotion of the different island provinces,” said Abenoja.

Unlike the past VABCs, this year’s edition is different, according to Ted Locson, CCCI’s vice president of external affairs.

“This will all be about promotion of businesses coming to the area,” Locson said, adding that the past VABCs focused on concerns, resolutions and position papers on various issues for government to reconsider.

He noted that Eastern Visayas has a big potential for mining and manufacturing.

CCCI and the Ormoc Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also sign a sister-chamber agreement during the VABC.

“Collaboration among chambers is a great way to promote inclusive growth and increase productivity in the region and in the Visayas,” said CCCI president Melanie Ng.