ILOILO CITY – The role of regional economies in the country’s economic progress has become more pivotal as the government pushes for massive employment generation and faster poverty reduction, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

In his statement read by NEDA Deputy Director-General Margarita R. Songco before the 5th National Convention of Regional Development Council (RDC) – Private Sector Representatives (PSRs) on August 13, 2014 in Iloilo City, Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General Arsenio Balisacan emphasized the importance of the regional and local governments working with the private sector to make growth as inclusive as possible.

“The RDC provides a venue for the private sector to work closely with government agencies and local government units, or LGUs, in shaping the development of the regions. We look to the RDC private sector representatives to be the advocates of government’s development agenda in your respective sectors, communities and business circles,” he said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority’s recent Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) figures revealed that seven of the 17 regions in the country posted accelerated growth in 2013.

The Bicol Region recorded the fastest growth with 9.4 percent, surpassing its 6.9 percent growth in 2012. The NCR registered only second with 9.1 percent; followed by SOCCSKSARGEN, 8.4 percent; Caraga, 7.8 percent; and the Ilocos Region, 7.7 percent. The economy of Eastern Visayas rebounded from a 6.4 percent contraction in 2012 to a 5.7 percent-growth in 2013.

Balisacan reiterated that the government continues to exercise fiscal prudence, intensify governance and institutional reforms, enhance human capital development, and pursue regulatory initiatives to support investments, innovation, and competition throughout the country.

“Aligned with the Updated Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016, we are now more deliberate in implementing spatially and sector-focused economic and social programs in order to equalize development opportunities among regions and improve resilience among communities, especially those most prone to natural disasters,” he said.

The convention aims to strengthen the role of the PSRs in the RDC, particularly in getting their full support and cooperation in the implementation of the Updated PDP and Regional Development Plan.

According to Executive Order (EO) 325, the PSRs comprise one-fourth of the membership of the fully constituted RDC. Acknowledging the important role of the private sector in regional development, EO 325 specifically promotes the active participation of PSRs in regional planning, investment programming, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation.

“We believe that PSRs play an important role in compelling and encouraging our regional line agencies and LGUs to innovate to upgrade standards of public service. Together with us in the national government, we should be able to step up to meet people’s demands and growing expectations,” Balisacan concluded.