Agri, tourism to boost Bicol economy

LEGAZPI CITY --- The agriculture and tourism sectors will help Bicol region’s economy to bounce back amidst the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis, if the P150 billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) modernization program and the Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QBEx) will be completed early, Ako Bicol partylist Rep. Elizaldy “Zaldy” S. Co said.

Co said the economy of the Bicol region is badly affected in the first and second quarters of this year due to coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

He said that the region’s economy is expected to perk up through agricultural development to stabilize food security, and tourism development through the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration.

Farmers in Barangay Tagoytoy, Malinao town harvest their palay under the scorching heat of the sun. Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy S. Co believes that agriculture and tourism will help the region’s economy to bounce back. (Rhaydz B. Barcia)

“The P150 billion PNR fast railway system was bid out already and the QBEx Expressway must already be started. All of these big tickets under Build Build Build should be started and finish before the Duterte administration ends to expedite the development of Bicol,” Co said.

“Once all these projects are in place, Bicol would be contributory to the food basket of Luzon. We have so many cheap lands available and are very fertile all we need is to cultivate and be supported by the Department of Agriculture,” the lawmaker said.

Co believed that tourism in the region will not grow in the next years. That is why it is necessary for the national government to finish the two major infrastructure projects in Bicol.

“We have the Mayon Volcano. All we need is to light it up to have five million tourist every year, which will provide employment to at least one million Bicolanos in the next five years. This will even perk up once the (Bicol) international airport opens up,” Co said.

Co said the national government should also give incentives to tourism and other businesses that will relocate.

“Provide income tax free, zero rated taxes, government banks should provide low interest with 30 year payback period, same in China and Japan,” he said.

As to the Balik Probinsiya program of the national government to decongest Manila and to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, Co said Ako Bikol is supporting it, provided that the government would prioritize and make Bicol region as the No. 1 tourist destination in the Philippines.