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So. Leyte Chamber prexy slams RDP as ‘defective’

ORMOC CITY – Southern Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. president Robert Castañares has had it with sloppy government reports and projections and over the past two weeks, wrote various government agencies to shape up or ship out.
The Southern Leyte Chamber, in collaboration with other chambers in the region, recently conducted a review of the Regional Development Plan as its “initiative to formulate a Regional Business Development Framework” in consonance with the RDP. This is the first time that the Chambers “reviewed” the RDP, as organized by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and was attended by various presidents of the chambers in the region including EV governor Atty. Roy Fiel of Ormoc City last March 22.
To their dismay, Castañares said they were “extremely alarmed” by the worsening economic situation and rising poverty incidence in region 8, making it the 5th poorest region in the country.
In contrast to this reality, the chamber said NEDA, through its RDP for 2011 to 2016, projects a poverty reduction target of almost 50 percent without a detailed plan to achieve it.
For this, Castañares criticized the NEDA for “sloppy work” and also Secretary Paderanga for approving and endorsing to the Office of the President “a poorly crafted RDP” with bloated projections  “meant only to please the President”.
The Southern Leyte Chamber of Commerce president also scored NEDA director Atty. Buenaventura Go-Soco Jr. for being absent in the said meeting, including National Statistics Coordinating Board regional director Eve Paran.
He said most, if not all representatives from the private sector traveled from far-flung areas for about 3 to 6 hours just to be on time for the meeting, and “were not informed that the two of you were not attending”. “We stayed and waited for you in the meeting from 9AM to 4PM”, he said.
“Your attendance in that meeting was important not only because you were the one who invited us but also because we wanted to discuss with you the strategic planning framework and the information that would be required from the line agences in order to improve the RDP”, Castañares said.
Compounding it was the absence of Paran. “There were several questions regarding statistics that were not properly answered”, he noted.
He reminded Go-Soco that “we are also busy persons like you and we hope you would be considerate enough to inform us in advance if you could not make it. We are taking seriously the call of Pres. Aquino to the private sector to help the government in its economic development initiatives”.
Nonetheless, Castañares said the chambers were still willing to meet with NEDA and other government executives and requested for an “executive session” between the chambers and the regional heads of NEDA, NSCB, Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine Coconut Authority, Fiber Development Authority and other agencies on April 17.
He also wrote various letters to the said agencies, asking for details, data and explanations to their projections found in the RDP, hoping that by April 17 they would have the answers to these questions.
Engr. Robert Castañares owns the successful Kuting Beach resort in Southern Leyte. With the cooperation of Southern Leyte officials, he is giving impetus to the tourism development of his native province with the inauguration of the Agas-agas Zipline last year and a Zoo by mid-April, as part of the activities of the EV Chamber of Commerce Convention that Southern Leyte is hosting.  By LMJ

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