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Malacañang officials launch Salubungan in Cebu  

| by: Xerxes Alkuino

Quality leadership is seen as the key towards attracting investments. This, as government officials discussed ways to eradicate, if not lessen, the poverty in the country.

Despite the robust economic growth enjoyed by the island, Governor Hilario P. Davide III, who made good governance as one his of six-star agenda, said many Cebuanos are still poor.

He said Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP) of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction (HDPR) Cluster should be implemented as soon as possible.

The Malacañang officials led by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras launched “Salubungan in Cebu” last April 30 at the Capitol.

Salubungan operates under the ASAPP, which is to promote a new a window for poverty reduction and employment generation in the Province of Cebu.

Almendras was joined by Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Acting Director General Arsenio Balicasan.

Almendras said a multi-national fast food company would want to implement “inclusive business” in their locations.

Inclusive business means the company will find ways to help the economy of the place of their business like by buying raw materials or finished products or hire the residents to work for their company.

However, the company would not implement this scheme if they don’t find it suitable.

Almendras said, “Their only criterion is the political situation. The company says, ‘I don’t want to have a problem three years from now when another mayor takes over or there is a predominant family that is influencing the (local) economy.’”

He explained that the problem is not really the local chief executives but it may be their subordinates.

Almendras said in Salubangan, the mayors and its partners in the business sector, and the poor communities themselves, would discuss plans and actions to bring development with the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty.

Balicasan said the country’s growth is private sector driven.

“The primary role of the LGUs is to provide the enabling environment to produce more, thereby employ more,” he said.

Cebu and Central Visayas’ economic growth at 9 percent in the last four years has been higher than the national economic growth rate, which lingers around 6.3 percent in five years since 2010.

However, poverty remains a problem in the province as reflected in its poverty incidence rate of 18.9%, which translates to 185,603 poor families or about a million poor individuals in 2012, according to the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB).

“To be sure, Cebu is the victim of its own success. The very rapid growth that we are seeing in Cebu made Cebu a target for migration. You attract the poor to Cebu because the employment is now higher here than any other parts of the country,” Balicasan said.

He stated that the problem is common to first class provinces in the country. These provinces, however, also have higher prospects of growth economically

ASAPP has been implemented in three towns in each of the nine pilot provinces in the country. In Cebu, the three towns selected to pioneer the implementation of ASAPP are Dalaguete, Santa Fe, and Tuburan.

The selection was primarily based on two criteria: good governance and economic potential.

NEDA 7 Director Efren Carreon said the funding of ASAPP comes from regular appropriations of the national government agencies.

He also stated that there is “fiscal space” in the government coffer that can be utilized by the identified programs and projects out of discussion in the Salubungan.