CEBU Governor Gwendolyn Garcia will continue to implement her Enhanced Countryside Development program for 2021 because the Province's economy has not fully recovered yet from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Garcia told reporters on Dec. 29, 2020, that she plans to continue her usual program against Covid-19 in the Province through the promotion of good health, wellness and the continuous return of tourism activities.
Garcia said: "We have not focused our Covid-19 budget on expenditures that won't have lasting value. We continue our approach in tackling Covid-19 by boosting the immune system through promoting a healthy lifestyle such as promoting backyard gardening of Vitamin C-rich crops such as calamansi. We are also distributing free vitamins and air purifiers. We continue to aim for a two-pronged approach in tackling Covid-19. On the other hand, let us spend funds with more lasting value particularly so that we may be able to revitalize our economy."
Since the Province was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), Garcia said they have slowly reopened the tourism industries of their towns and cities as a way to revitalize the economy.
As of December, tourism activities in the Province that have started catering to tourists include the whale shark watching in Oslob, the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Adventure in Barili; island hopping and sardine run in Moalboal; and canyoneering in Badian, among others.
Aside from tourism activities, about 257 tourism-related industries in the Province have resumed operations after Cebu was placed under MGCQ.
The Province also initiated other programs geared toward helping its constituents recover from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis such as the Sugbuanong Busog (SugBusog) program which encourages families to be more self-sufficient by organizing their own backyard gardens.
Garcia said they are set to launch the second series of the program that will encourage puroks, barangays, towns, cities and districts in the Province to compete against one another in being the most self-sufficient.
Aside from the SugBusog program, the Province also initiated the Sugbo Negosyo program, which aims to help micro entrepreneurs whose businesses were hurt by the Covid-19 crisis.
Garcia said for 2021, her ban against pork and pork-related products produced outside Cebu due to the threat of the African Swine Fever will continue.
Garcia said their 2021 budget will not focus on fighting the Covid-19 scourge but on infrastructure such as concreting municipal roads and the proposed transfer of the Cebu's seat of power from Cebu City to Balamban.
The Province's budget for 2021 will also focus on improving the services of provincial and district hospitals.
Garcia said she has not recommended the allocation of funds to acquire Covid-19 vaccines as she leaves it to the national government to provide them with the supply should it be available in the market.
She said: "In fact, if you saw our 2021 budget we focused not so much on purchases for Covid-19 protective equipment or even vaccines as I said we are waiting for national policy. I understand that in the 2021 budget P70 billion has been set aside for the purchase of vaccines by the national government and I believe that these will be distributed to our local government units including our frontliners." (ANV/JKV)