LEGAZPI CITY (23 Jan. 2012) – Albay faces bright economic prospects with business investments coming in and countryside development programs going on in full throttle this year, Albay Governor Joey Salceda said.
Albay is emerging as an investment hub in Southern Luzon because of innovative programs that give investors a “friendly business climate.”
Among the socio economic pump priming projects that would be pursued vigorously this year are: climate change adaptation through education and comprehensive land use plans, community-based disaster risk reduction, universal health insurance, free education with an initial goal of producing a graduate for every poor family.
Salceda, who is also Bicol’s Regional Development Council chairman said the city government will endorse a flagship infrastructure development program particularly on multi-modal transportation infrastructure and the Bicol River Basin that is now underway.
The program includes: the P3.4 billion Southern Luzon International Airport seen to uplift the economy and position of Bicol in the global tourism map; modernization and expansion of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) especially its Bicol Express, Mayon Limited and Matnog extension; Bicol Alternate Highway and Bicol River Basin, the food basket of Bicol, to integrate flood control, watershed management and irrigation.
The Southern Luzon International Airport in Daraga will also push harder Bicol’s tourism industry, particularly with its internationally known attractions such as the Cagsawa Ruins and Mayon volcano.
Meanwhile, Albay’s Guicadale (Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Legazpi) economic platform will continue to draw investment as private sector is now responding positively to the development guidance that would significantly lift the prospects of safe development in Albay.
The Guicadale Economic Platform is designed to spur economic activity in the province by integrating Albay and Sorsogon into one common economy enlarging demand base and resulting in better economies of scale that would attract domestic and foreign investments while spurring greater competition that would lower cost of distribution.
The Guicadale Project comprises economic corridors that will consist of a circumferential road and new arterial roads to interconnect these urban centers and it’s surroundings to the Bicol International Airport in Daraga town, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Central Station, the regional center site and in various resettlements sites.
Salceda in close partnership with the government and private sector would focus on addressing the current high power costs as the biggest single stumbling block to faster, more sustained and more inclusive economic growth.
“With improved governance, high power costs have emerged as the biggest disincentive to more domestic and foreign investments,” Salceda said.
He cited that the power sector has “transmogrified” into an instrument of inequitable distribution of wealth as provinces like Albay have been providing Luzon cheap geothermal energy of almost 464 megawatts while getting virtually nothing.
Last year, Bicol shed off its “poorest region” image with a leaping growth rate of 8.2 percent, the highest so far among the other regions, and even surpassing the national growth rate.
Salceda said “the economic landscape of the region now looks different, and the momentum of growth it had taken had been decisive”.