The Philippines has to further boost competitiveness and attract investments to the regions in order to generate more employment and reduce poverty in rural areas.
Socio-Economic Planning Sec. Arsenio Balisacan told participants of the first regional competitiveness summit that spreading economic growth will provide alternatives to investors who would be able to take advantage of the resources and unique attributes offered by different regions.
“For the people, it would mean better opportunities for employment, and having the ability to provide for a better life for their families. This would also give people more chances to contribute to the development of their community and their country,” said Balisacan.
He stressed that achieving inclusive growth would require development in the periphery through integration of the lagging areas or regions with the fast-growing, leading areas or regions of the country.
Sixty-two percent of the entire country’s economic growth is concentrated in Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon.
Based on first semester 2012 poverty estimates, poverty incidence is highest in the Autonomous Region Of Muslim Mindanao, SOCKSARGEN, Eastern Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula.
On the other hand, poverty incidence is lowest in the National Capital Region, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon. Fifty seven percent of establishments and 65 percent of employed are concentrated in these areas.
“We need an impetus that will encourage new businesses to open in areas where development is most needed,” said Balisacan.
“As other centers of development are created, we encourage growth not only in these regions but in the whole country. We hope to contribute to these efforts by spearheading the formulation of area development plans (ADPs), which aim to transform less developed but resource-rich areas into globally competitive areas,” he said.
The ADPs have identified specific areas based on natural economic units or natural-resource boundaries that shall be given focus to boost development in the farthest areas of the country.
The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 and the various regional development plans have also identified priority industries which are seen to have the highest growth potentials and can generate the most jobs.
Balisacan said more emphasis will be given to employment generating sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, IT-BPO, agri-business, and housing.
Infrastructure projects have been programmed to support growth in these industries in the peripheral regions.
As of the first quarter of 2013, 926 local government units (LGUs) or 57 percent of all 1,634 LGUs in the country have streamlined their processes and reduced the time to register businesses to 5 days for new applications and 10 days for renewal. The Philippine Business Registry has reduced average processing time to register businesses to 30 minutes.