NEGROS FIRST! Economic Development
Negros Occidental is the Philippines’ major sugar producer, contributing over half of the country’s total production. Some 54 percent of its agricultural land is sugarcane-based, and raw sugar is its leading traditional export product.
Other countries like Thailand, however, have eaten into Negros Occidental’s world market for sugar with their lower priced product, thus threatening not just our export income but the stability of the industry itself.
To enhance sustainability of the sugar industry, there is a need to introduce multi-cropping or rotational cropping in the sugar industry. This we will advocate to our planters who are actually open to the idea of diversification. They could plant corn and other crops with their sugarcane as this would help maintain a healthy soil to ensure continued farm productivity, in addition to being another source of income as well. A cursory computation shows that a planter could earn as much as Php50,000 for 10 tons of corn as compared with a meager P16,800 for some 10 tons of sugarcane.
We also support the thrust towards production of bio-ethanol from sugarcane, as well as other biofuel like jatropha oil.
Power plays a very crucial role in the economic development of the province. This requires additional investments in power projects to have an equitable balance between demand and supply to avert power crisis in the near future. In line with this, we will encourage the exploration and establishment of renewable sources of energy, especially hydro-electric projects making use of our six major rivers.
To further spur economic development and to increase local revenues, the provincial government could make use of its corporate personality to do business. The 1991 LGC allows LGUs to invest in business, with a 51 to 49 percent sharing, the government being the minority shareholder. For instance, it could put up collateral for loans to be used in tourism investment that will be run by the private sector.