TACLOBAN CITY, Aug. 1 (PNA) — The Leyte Chamber of Commerce

and Industry is seeking assistance from Malacañang for the expansion of the Leyte Industrial Development Estate (LIDE), establishment of economic zone in this city, and more support to tourism development.

Oliver Cam, one of the officers of LCCI said he presented the proposal to Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Diño during the latter’s visit to the province last week.

“In line with the government’s thrust of countryside industrial and agricultural development, especially in our region, where we are primary agricultural and fishery dependent, we are really pushing for several key developments,” Cam said.

On the expansion of LIDE, the chamber hopes to bring in more “inclusive types” of industry.

“Right now the existing industry there is the copper smelting plant, which their effect on the province is not inclusive simply because they import everything they export it all out,” Cam said.

Although the smelting plant has good impact to labor and its surrounding areas, Cam said what the chamber wants is to convince more industry to come in and establish operation in LIDE to generate more jobs “not only for Leyte residents, but also for Samar people.”

LIDE is a 425 hectare special economic zone located in Isabel, Leyte, which was established in 1978 thru Letter of Instruction 962.

It is the home of two major industries – Philippine Associated Smelting & Refining Corp and the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp.

Meanwhile, the establishment of economic zone in the northern part of Tacloban is a long-term solution that will provide great impact to more than 80,000 city dwellers, according to LCCI.

The northern part of the city has been tagged as permanent relocation sites for families of supertyphoon Yolanda survivors in danger zones.

The National Housing Authority, along with private donors, are building 16,000 housing units in the northern part of the city.

“The absence of livelihood is one of the challenges why it is hard to move these people to that area. There is no job in the north, but only houses. If you are moving people, you should not only focus on housing, but on holistic approach. That is why we are really pushing for the establishments of economic zone in that area,” Cam said.

“These are all medium to long term projects that we are looking at, but this will have a great and long lasting impact to the region if we are able to diversify this type of infrastructure, in fact more resilient to our economy,” he added.

LCCI is also pushing for support on the region’s tourism industry that was able to recover immediately after the devastation of supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013.

He, however said funding for the proposed major tourism rehabilitation program remains a problem.

DOT Eastern Visayas reported that after the supertyphoon, tourism industry turned out to be the region’s most resilient industry, posting positive tourist arrival.

From 731,000 in 2013, tourist arrival in 2014 reached 964,000 or a 31.9 percent increase. In 2015, the region reached a million mark with 1.099 million tourist arrival with a total PHP9.4 billion tourist receipt.

“That is why we are really struggling with our tourism effort because our office of tourism here is not given the budget. They just become creative in trying to address the needs of our tourism industry here in the region,” the chamber official added. (PNA)