Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie G. Edillon joined the general staff convocation of NEDA Region VI on Monday, March 2, 2020 and used the occasion to provide updates on the proposed NEDA Bill, which aims for stronger vertical, horizontal and functional structures in the bureaucracy and its linkages, by becoming a department in charge of economic and development planning.

A bigger staff complement is expected to be set up for a more efficient and effective planning agency. She also mentioned that researches and dissemination of new planning methodologies are necessary, thus a planning division will be created at the central office.

Regarding COVID-19, USec Edillon proposed a three-phased approach in addressing the current epidemic: (1) Response, which is an immediate measure towards securing the health and safety of the population and ensuring that no one is affected by the virus;  (2) Recovery and Rehabilitation, which will focus on stabilizing the economy including regulatory forbearance as in the case of BIR allowing business taxpayers to pay on installment; ensuring no disruptions in the supply chain by finding market elsewhere for manufacturing industries; and for resort owners not to lay off workers by reducing time of work and reducing pay instead. The 3rd phase is Building Back Better, which will look into gaps in the delivery of services, e.g. manufacturing of medical supplies and emergency garments which is found to be wanting, epidemiological researches, and a national disease control facility, among others.

She shared that her main purpose in visiting the region is to look into the issues and concerns besetting the sugar industry in Western Visayas, along with the Brain Trust Inc. group headed by former NEDA Director General Cielito F. Habito who have been contracted to do an industry study.   The series of consultations in Panay and Negros Occidental will cover key Informant Interviews and focus group discussions among  representatives from the millers, the planters, and sugarcane workers.  She also said that the sugar industry is the least studied commodity compared to the rice industry and a research is needed before arriving at recommendations that will invigorate the sector. The proposed study will include both quantitative and qualitative analysis and is expected to be finished in May 2020.

The Undersecretary was then requested to officiate the oathtaking of two newly-promoted NEDA-VI staff: Mr. Melvin V. Madriguera as Supervising Economic Development Specialist of the Project Development, Investment Programming, and Budget Division (PDIPBD) and Ms. Sharmaine L. Laneta as Administrative Aide VI of the Finance and Administrative Division.  (IGPahila/DRD)