As the Philippine economy reopens, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go is urging the government to focus its plan towards boosting economic opportunities and development in the countryside.
He said the government should prioritize the implementation of an investment plan to complement its Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BP2) to ensure equitable distribution of wealth and accelerate socio-economic development in the rural areas.
According to him, this approach will help communities recover from the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide more economic opportunities to those who wish to start a life anew in the provinces.
By attracting investments in other parts of the country and focusing on regional development, Go said this will provide more employment and livelihood opportunities in the countryside, consistent with the long-term goals of the BP2 Program that is set to be fully implemented after the COVID-19 crisis.
“An investment plan crafted towards regional development will aid in modernizing the Philippine economy, generating higher levels of decent jobs across the country, and help solve societal issues on employment, housing, transportation and safe and secure travel, among others,” the senator explained.
Go hopes for the investment plan to contain a list of specific activities or categories of economic activity that can qualify for incentives under Executive Order 226, Series of 1987 or the “Omnibus Investments Code of 1987,” such as income tax holidays.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, Go said the government could consider initially covering investments in the production of essential goods or provision of services critically needed in responding to the pandemic, as well as those that will mitigate its impacts.
This approach will help communities recover from the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide more economic opportunities to those who wish to start a life anew in the provinces.
Go, who is a proponent of the BP2 Program, noted the lack of economic opportunities and good-paying jobs are reasons why residents of rural areas migrate to the urban areas like Metro Manila.
Go likewise mentioned that government synergy will be a key factor in helping Filipinos recover from the crisis.
He said that the success of BP2 Program will also depend on the widespread and active participation of key government agencies in boosting economic opportunities in the provinces.
The BP2 program is a long-term plan of the government to decongest Metro Manila and boost countryside development.
On 6 May 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 114 which created the BP2 Council and institutionalized the program. The EO came after Go authored Senate Resolution 380 which the Senate adopted on 4 May.The BP2 program has four key results areas to ensure inclusive and balanced urban and rural development, and the creation of resilient and sustainable communities, like: empowerment of local industries; food security and agricultural productivity; housing, social welfare, health, employment and human resource development; and infrastructure development.
At the height of stringent COVID-19 quarantine measures, the BP2 program’s initial rollouts were suspended to give way to President Duterte’s directive to prioritize the “Hatid Tulong” initiative, a transport assistance program which helps locally stranded individuals return to their provinces.