DTI seeks P300M for Boracay plan | Inquirer Business

DTI seeks P300M for Boracay plan

Livelihood projects for workers to be displaced by 6-month closure
/ 05:10 AM April 24, 2018
boracay

Boracay Island. FILE PHOTO

Various stakeholders in both government and the private sector are looking for ways to soften the impact of the looming 6-month closure of popular tourist spot Boracay Island.

Efforts vary from being reactionary and proactive as more than 30,000 jobs would be displaced by the government decision.

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These efforts include the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) request to get P300 million to provide different forms of support for workers who might be affected by the closure.

This developed a few days before the government’s six-month closure order on Boracay would take effect. Despite concerns raised by various stakeholders, the government would close the island starting April 26 to address environmental concerns.

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On the sidelines of a press briefing on Monday, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said they had requested for a slice of the “revolving fund” that the government would allocate for Boracay.

Lopez was referring to around P2 billion worth of calamity funds, which, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the Duterte administration would be using to help the displaced workers on the island.

“That [P300 million] is what we’ll need here at DTI to be able to do our part in the rehabilitation. This is what we’ll ask for,” he said, noting that the funds would be tapped for various services such as livelihood training and providing market access.

But even before the fund is released, Lopez said DTI would tap some funds from the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3), a financing program for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises on the island.

He said around 400 people who sell souvenirs and gifts in Boracay would be given the chance to sell elsewhere, such as here in Manila, among other opportunities.

Meanwhile, Sen. Win Gatchalian said that the closure would not only lead to a loss of jobs, but also weaken the demand for electricity given that businesses in Boracay account for 41 percent of the franchise area of Aklan Electric Cooperative Inc. (Akelco)

From a high of 28 megawatts (MW), Boracay’s energy demand will drop to a mere 4 MW during the closure period. This would lead to surplus of energy, the cost of which would be passed on to consumers in Aklan, Antique and Capiz.

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“That would be an unconscionable burden to put on Visayan power consumers, who already have to suffer through high power rates during the summer,” said Gatchalian, noting this would result in a total of P178 million in additional charges in the next six months.

To address this, the senator urged Akelco to invoke force majeure in its long-term power supply agreements (PSAs) with various generation companies, which would allow the firm to temporarily keep from acting on its obligations in cases beyond its control.

“Clearly, the complete closure of Boracay is an unforeseeable event completely beyond the control of Akelco. This is definitely an instance when force majeure will apply,” he said.

A group of stakeholders, including the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), is working together to prevent other tourist spots from suffering the same fate of Boracay.

In a statement, One Boracay said that they were working on putting up other groups that would defend the tourism sites currently being scrutinized by the government.

“There will be groups like the one we have for Boracay in other destinations that are under intense scrutiny or those that are being threatened to be closed by the government. We have One Boracay now. There will be One Bohol, One Puerto Galera and One Palawan very soon,” TCP president Jose Clemente III

One Boracay, which recently offered 4,000 jobs to displaced workers on the island, includes members such as the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA). PTAA is considered the biggest group of tourism stakeholders in the country.

“We want the government, in the future, to first consult with all stakeholders and incorporate our ideas before executing any actions that will affect tourism destinations,” it said.

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