Provincial Development Framework
In many part of the Philippines, development efforts have been reactionary, rather than implemented through rational planning and pro-action. This is an offshoot of traditional practices where priorities were based more on narrow considerations rather than developmental goals. Those who had easier access to the centralized national agencies, or those who could articulate their requirements better, would consequently receive more assistance at the expense of the more depressed areas and the less accessible ones.
In the case of Negros Occidental, the thrust of the Provincial Government is to separate partisan interests from developmental planning by starting with an inventory of felt needs, and delivering services and programs according to the determined priorities.
This basic developmental concept was the basis for the predecessor 15-Year Master Development Plan for Negros Occidental (1987-2002) and remains as the conceptual foundation for the successor Medium-Term Comprehensive Development Plan for 1993-1998.
B. MAJOR DEVELOPMENT CONCERNS
Over-dependence on a monocrop sugar economy with its inherent inability to adequately address the wide spread poverty, unemployment and underemployment problems, is the major concern of Negros Occidental.
The continued degradation of the environment has also worsened the critically low forest cover for the province (only 5% as of 1990), and contributed to the decreasing fish catch of sustenance and commercial fishermen, further aggravating the poverty situation.
Limited government resources continue to hamper the delivery of adequate social and other basic services, as well as important infrastructure support such as roads, ports, health facilities, school buildings and telecommunications.
While the peace and order situation has tremendously improved over the past two years, more substantial progress is needed in the areas of economic development and social justice in order to address the root causes of the insurgency.
The powers granted to local governments through local autonomy must be honed through adequate capability and institution-building efforts, so that local governments are able to generate more resources and manage them better.
C. SPECIFICE CONCERNS
Population Growth ManagementPopulation growth must be managed so that resources of the province are not unduly strained and living conditions can improve. From a growth rate of 3.5% in 1975 and 2.4% in 1985, the province targets a growth rate of 1.5% in 1997 and 1.3% in 2002.
Self-Sufficiency through Agricultural DiversificationFor a province so abundantly blessed with good soil, it is ironic that Negros Occidental cannot be consistently self-reliant in staple crops like rice and corn. The thrust is to diversify and achieve sufficiency in rice and corn in 1998 and in root crops in 1993, and a surplus in fish, meat and fruits in 1993.
Basic Infrastructure DevelopmentThe rural population, which constitutes 65% of the province's population, will be provided access to basic infrastructure. The following are the six major areas targeted for infrastructure development from 1992-2002:
a. Potable Water - As of 1987, only 50 to 60% of the province's population had access to potable water. The target is to provide 90 to 100% of the population with potable water from 1992-2002.
b. Telecommunications - Only 34% of the cities and municipalities in the province have telephone connections with a rate of 135 people per individual telephone connection vis-a-vis an ideal of 15 telephones per 100 people. The target is to have telecommunications facilities in every city/municipality of the province by 1994.
c. Rural Electrification - in 1985, only 64.98% of barangays had electrical connections. By 1994, the province aims to have energized 510 barangays, or 85.28% of the total 598.
d. Irrigation - Agricultural productivity, especially among small farmers, is low because only 33,300 hectares (45% of farming areas with potentials have access to irrigation systems. Together with the National Irrigation Administration, the Provincial Government targets an increase to 50,000 hectares within the next five (5) years to serve an additional 10,000 small farmers.
e. Post-Harvest Facilities - Small farmers without post-harvest facilities are obliged to sell their products to middlemen at low prices. As of 1985, only 20% of small farmers had access to post-harvest facilities. The province aims to increase these to 60% by 1996.
f. Road Network - The construction of all-weather roads linking all towns and cities within the province by 1995 is prioritized. Thereafter, farm-to-market roads linking rural agricultural units with the first-class highways will also be programmed in order to provide the producers with better access to markets.
Delivery of Health and Social ServicesWith emphasis on depressed countryside barangays, the program intends to provide people in these rural villages access to basic services such as education, feeding and nutrition programs, health care and medical services.
Environmental and Natural Resources ManagementPrograms which will ensure the maintenance of proper ecological balance, proper monitoring and control of the use of natural resources such as the forest, water, soils, minerals and coastal areas are being drawn up for medium/long-term implementation in this plan.
Export DevelopmentConsidering that raw materials are still being imported by the country, the need for exports in imperative to provide proper balance of trade. Key dollar-earning export areas are being identified and assistance is being sought for manpower development and training, technology transfer and marketing to prepare the people of the province for export goals. The establishment of organizations per industry is also being encouraged.
IndustrializationTargeted for the medium term will be the establishment of labor-intensive industries to not only utilize fully the excess labor force of the province, but also upgrade labor standards and products output. Industrial estates are also being planned in the medium to long term.
Housing/Land AccessAs of 1985, only about 20% of the population owned land titles either for residential, commercial or agricultural purposes. The thrust is to provide access to the majority of the population who have no land, especially the squatters.
Access to Rural CreditThe provincial Government will support programs to replicate the poor man's bank (Grameen Bank) concept that will provide credit facilities to rural people.
Cooperative DevelopmentIndustrial development as experienced in developed areas is always complemented by growth through the formation of cooperative units. The Provincial Government has programmed the organization of cooperatives of various affiliations on the provincial level.
Tourist DevelopmentAreas in the province with potentials for tourism will be identified and developed, while activities will be created to attract local and international tourists.
D. POTENTIALS AND ADVANTAGES
Despite constraints, the province remains a good place for investment, with the advantage of its relatively fertile soil which can grow a wide variety of agricultural crops. It can produce an abundant supply of basic agricultural commodities throughout the year.
Its comparatively rich fishing ground can produce many forms of marine, fishery and aquaculture products, and Negros Occidental is one of the major exporters of prawn, tuna and other fish products in the whole country.
Natural attractions like the Mambucal Resort and good beaches as well as excellent golf courses make the province a potential tourist destination. Its hospitable people and rich cultural heritage provides an ambiance for the appreciation of Philippine culture and heritage.
The province's power, sea ports, airport, irrigation, transport system and related infra facilities are substantially operational to facilitate social and economic development activities.
The potential for mineral exploitation remains high within the province, which has rich reserves of mineral resources such as copper, gold and coal.
But the province's greatest potential is its skilled manpower resource. With better training and capability building, the people of the province can accelerate industrial growth and expansion of the provincial economy.
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