Bohol to build ICT industry

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

LAGGING behind other provinces in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, the Bohol Provincial Government hopes to make this industry the third pillar of its economy after tourism and agriculture.

With the P700 million investment that PLDT poured in for its domestic fiber optic network in Bohol, Gov. Edgar Chatto believes they are ready to accept locators for business process management in Bohol.

“While we have had landmark, award-winning initiatives in Health, Education, Agriculture and Tourism (HEAT), we have looked with envy at other provinces which gained a headstart in the IT-BPO industry,” he said.


Willing to go home

Chatto, who later spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the province’s 106th founding anniversary celebration, said that when they held their own ICT summit in 2012, they gauged Bohol’s strengths and learned that they could produce the talent required to fill up seats for companies. He also said they made an inventory of Boholanos working in BPM companies outside of the province and found that many of them are willing to go home and work there if companies decide to open up in Bohol.

Chatto said they currently only have a handful of workers employed by family-owned firms. But while waiting for private investments to come, Chatto assured that they have begun preparing the province by making the academe adjust their courses to fit the needs of the ICT-BPM industry while the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (Tesda) also offers training for call center operations.

He also has several areas in mind that could turn into locations for ICT-BPM companies. As they are expecting a new Provincial Capitol to be constructed by the National Government, he said an area behind the old capitol building and the airport, which will be empty once the Panglao International Airport becomes operational, will be good areas to develop as economic zones.

They are also offering tax holidays for real property for tourism and commercial developments on top of what the national government provides under national laws. They also set up the Bohol Investment Promotions Center to serve as a one-stop shop for interested investors.

He said they have set up the needed structural and legislative support so that the industry can take off quicker.

Chatto said that developers from Cebu, Manila and as far as India have expressed interest in developing property in the province and are inspecting land and old buildings.

Though devastated by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in October last year, things are not slowing down for Bohol. Chatto expressed his excitement for the many things expected in the coming months.

The Panglao International Airport has begun its bidding process and the technical proposals of six consortiums are currently under review.

Residents affected by the 220-hectare airport project have been relocated while some have been trained in skills that the future airport would require of its workers. He expects the project to be awarded by September and construction to start in October. The project is expected to run for 30 months.

New Capitol

He expects improved governance and better services once a new Provincial Capitol is erected while businesses are sure to benefit from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ plans to open an office in Bohol.

The Catagbacan International Cruise Ship Port is under repair, setback after the earthquake but is expected to be completed by 2016.

Chatto said all these developments will accelerate Bohol’s growth and ensure its recovery from the last disaster. He believes improving the quality of life, other than rebuilding infrastructure, is what real recovery is about. He was especially glad to report that they have been able to bring down poverty incidence.

A report released by the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) 7 showed that Bohol’s poverty index dropped six percentage points in 2012 to 30.6 from 36.6 in 2009 and 40.3 in 2006.

Bohol was cited the best performing province in Central Visayas in terms of poverty reduction “that it has moved out of the top spot in poverty incidence among families and among population in 2012.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 24, 2014.


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