NEDA seeks more foreign investments in Eastern Visayas

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TACLOBAN CITY — Reducing the cost of doing business and enhancing the business environment are two major activities recommended by the National and Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in order to draw more foreign investment to Eastern Visayas.

In the 2017 state of the region report released Wednesday by NEDA through the Regional Development Council (RDC), attracting foreign investment was identified as a weakness that needs to be addressed.

From a total of PHP807 million in foreign capital that poured into the region in 2016, the amount dropped to PHP553.71 million in 2017.

The report did not elaborate the factors contributing to lower investments last year. However, NEDA reported that the slower economic growth in 2017 was largely driven by downscaling of post-disaster construction activities.

“Local business environment must be continuously improved to entice more investors to invest in the region so we will have more success of revenue and more jobs will be generated. Coordination between and among national and local government, as well as with the private sector is imperative,” NEDA said.

In the 2017 ranking by the National Competitive Council of the Philippines, no single province in the region made it to the top 30 most competitive areas in the country.

Among the six provinces, Biliran was in a better spot (31st rank), followed by Leyte (36th), Samar (42nd), Southern Leyte (57th), Eastern Samar (61st), and Northern Samar (62nd). The survey covers 72 provinces nationwide.

Rankings of local government units are based on the sum of their scores on four pillars — economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure and resiliency.

The economic dynamism pillar measures the economic activity and productivity of a local government, which include business registrations, capital, revenue, permits, capacity to generate jobs, cost of living, cost of business, etc.

NEDA Regional Director Bonifacio Uy is eyeing a PHP1.2-billion foreign investments for Eastern Visayas this year despite poor performance in attracting big time investments over the past years.

The region had a share of only 0.2 percent in the nationwide foreign investments approved by the Board of Investments (BOI) since 2012.

Under the 2017 to 2022 Regional Development Plan (RDP), Eastern Visayas is eyeing a 20-percent increase in BOI-approved investments for the poverty-stricken region.

Foreign investments in the region, measured by the total amount of projects registered in the BOI, reached PHP13.03 billion from 2012 to 2016. The region had 16 projects in agriculture, forestry, fishing, utilities, manufacturing, real estate, and logistics sectors, according to NEDA reports.

“More than 88 percent of the said investments were intended to finance projects in electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply subsector, which indicates the potential of the region as a source of renewable energy,” Uy added.

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