THE MEDIUM term Regional Development Plan (RDP) of Central Visayas aims to distribute growth from Metro Cebu to its poorest municipalities through ramping up road linkages between production centers.

“Central Visayas is moving forward in sustaining its development through connectivity. This will promote economic integration, reduce poverty, and increase opportunities for human development across provinces,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a speech on Friday as the RDP 2017-2022 was launched in Cebu City.

The RDP said establishing intra- and inter-regional economic integration would decentralize Metropolitan Cebu’s growth through an integrated and intermodal transportation system and the construction and upgrading of arterial roads.

“The aim of the region is to integrate and interconnect the provincial economies into a region wide network of production, processing, marketing, and trading,” the RDP read.

“Priority shall be given to the upgrading and proper maintenance of the arterial (circumferential and north-south backbone) road network, east-west or cross-country arteries, and main roads leading to special economic zones, industrial centers, major agricultural areas, major tourism areas, major ports and airport,” it added.

Infrastructure flagship projects in the region identified by the National Economic and Development Authority Board are the New Cebu International Container Port, New Bohol Airport in Panglao Island, Cebu-Bohol Link Bridge, Bohol-Leyte Link Bridge, Cebu-Negros Link Bridge, and the Bohol Northeast Basin Multipurpose Project.

The Central Visayas region logged the fastest growth for the past six years at a gross regional domestic product (GDRP) at 7.5%, followed by 7.4% in Caraga and the Davao region, Central Luzon’s 7.2% and National Capital Region’s 6.6%.

The region aims to post a GRDP growth rate of 8.3 to 8.8%, reduce poverty incidence to 17.6% from 22.6% currently, and cut the unemployment rate to 3 to 4% from 4.8% currently.

“For the next six years, Central Visayas will continue to be a major growth center in the country by making the most of our strategic location and diverse sources of growth,” NEDA Regional Director Efren B. Carreon said.

Mr. Carreon said tourism, information technology, business process outsourcing, manufacturing, and construction will remain as the primary growth drivers of the region. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan