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NEDA: Central Visayas must sustain sectors that generate jobs

CEBU, Philippines - The Central Visayas region must continue to boost its manufacturing, tourism and information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sectors, which are vital in job generation.

Efren Carreon, regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority, said these sectors including the creative industry are key in generating more jobs in the region.

He said there's a need to sustain the growth in IT-BPO which should move towards creating non-voice services.

He also raised the need to develop a new business and IT Park in Bohol to disperse the industry's development which is currently concentrated in Cebu.

Moreover, the development of regional airports should further support the local travel and tourism industry, Carreon said.

The new airport in Panglao, Bohol is expected be operational by middle of next year and is seen to accommodate 1.3 million passengers by then.

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The improvement of Siquijor Airport also includes the extension of its runway and construction of a new passenger terminal.

It is also eyed to accommodate commercial flights.

He also cited the plan to construct a new airport in Negros Oriental.

The second passenger terminal at Mactan-Cebu International Airport is set to be operational by first half of next year and is designed to increase the airport's capacity to 12.5 million passengers per annum.

In the manufacturing industry, Carreon said existing industrial estates and ecozones have to be expanded.

"[We need to prioritize] development,  delineation and development of new areas for manufacturing and industrial activities," he said.

He noted that in order to boost the industry, support infrastructure and utilities have to be improved.

In an earlier report, Colliers International said that Cebu remains as a major hub for industrial operations outside of Luzon, supported by its export sector.

"The demand for industrial space and facilities should be sustained by the continued dynamism of Cebu’s export sector," Colliers said.

From January to June this year, the Philippines’ total exports rose by nearly a fifth to US$31 billion with Cebu a key contributor to the country’s export bill, Colliers said.

"We see Cebu’s export sector being driven by the economic recovery of the Philippines’ top trading partner, the United States; implementation of trade deals with neighboring ASEAN economies and the Eurozone; as well as sustained manufacturing investments from Japan and China," the property consultancy firm said.

"These should contribute to greater absorption of space within Cebu’s industrial parks," it noted.

In Mactan, Cebu particularly, Cebu Light Industrial Park, Mactan Economic Zones 1 and 2 are the three industrial economic zones currently operating in the area.

As of 2016, Pinnacle Real Estate Consulting Services said Cebu has 27 IT Parks/Centers; seven manufacturing zones; two tourism economic zones; and one agro industrial economic zones.

The total area of economic zones is estimated at 120 hectares.

In addition, there are also manufacturers located outside of these economic zones as well.

"Since there are limited available industrial spaces in Metro Cebu, a total area of 50 hectares is planned for a light industrial park in the ongoing reclamation in Minglanilla. This is a Public-Private-Partnership of the Philippine Reclamation Authority, Minglanilla and Cebu local governments, and the local developer Cebu Landmasters," it had said.

In general, the industry sector accounted for 39.1 percent of the Central Visayas economy — where Cebu is a major player — as of 2016 while services accounted for 55.5 percent and agriculture made up 5.4 percent.

Industry grew 14.6 percent last year, led by a 40 percent growth in construction. The manufacturing sector had also grown through at a slower rate at 5.9 percent last year from 5.3 percent in 2015. (FREEMAN)

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