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Soccsksargen needs almost P125 B to fuel economic revival

/ 11:49 AM September 12, 2020

Fish operators in General Santos City display 946 pieces of tuna weighing a total of 33.61 metric tons. Organizers hope the display would be recognized by the Guinness World Record. Photo courtesy of CIRILO ANOTADO

KORONADAL CITY — The Soccsksargen region is seeking P125 billion in government funds in the next two years to tide over its economy from the debilitating impact of the coronavirus disease 2019  (COVID-19) pandemic, a regional economist said.

Teresita Socorro Ramos, regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said the amount is needed to fund the regional recovery plan from 2021 to 2022.

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The economic recovery and rehab initiatives for 2021 will cost some P90.82 billion while P33.70 billion is needed for 2022, Ramos added.

The recovery plan, anchored on the theme “We Recover as One,” provides the blueprint to sustain the measures implemented this year to reboot the battered regional economy which is dependent on agriculture.

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Ramos said the recovery plan underwent an extensive planning and validation process that included consultations with development planners of national government agencies and local governments.

Apart from sustaining the economic restart, the plan, according to Ramos, also serves as the region’s main anchor in the fight against COVID-19.

Soccsksargen or Region 12 covers the provinces of Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

For the first quarter of 2020, Soccsksargen generated a lone investment worth P69.13 million, a sharp drop from the P1.93 billion generated for the same period last year.

NEDA attributed the steep decline in investments to the pandemic.

Rommel Tanghal, NEDA – 12 planning division chief, expressed confidence the investment climate in the region will improve once measures to defeat COVID-19 are adequately put in place.

The COVID-19 lockdown from mid-March to May brought economic activities in the region to a standstill with businesses shutting down, sending workers jobless.

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Tanghal said that P6.44 billion has been earmarked by various national government line agencies in the region until the end of 2020 to respond to the economic distress caused by the pandemic.

Manufacturing, high-value crop farming and fisheries largely fuel the region’s economy, with canned pineapple, and fresh and canned tuna among its top dollar earners.

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TAGS: COVID-19, NEDA, pandemic, recovery plan, Soccsksargen, Teresita Socorro Ramos
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