Monday, February 9, 2015

Yap signs USAID-help to make 
Tagbilaran, CV new growth hub 

TAGBILARAN City, Bohol, February 6, 2015 (PIA) –In the pursuit of a more meaningful inclusive and broad-based economic growth in the country sides, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Tagbilaran City in a bid to create a new growth hub in this part of the Visayas.

By signing, both parties: USAID, through Mission Director Gloria Steele and Tagbilaran City, through Mayor John Geesnell Yap, agree to supporting the development of the city as a growth hub in the Philippines.

While it does not bind both parties, the MOU collectively allow the parties to cooperate to execute catalytic, sustainable, transparent and equitable economic reforms to spur rapid, broad-based, and inclusive economic growth in Tagbilaran City.

USAID will strive to assist Tagbilaran City in the infrastructure, small and medium enterprise, education, energy, environment, health, and disaster preparedness and mitigation sectors, and give in-kind or technical assistance in the form of training and commodities to further the development objectives of Tagbilaran City.

And as the US government sources out aid, Tagbilaran City on the other hand, will provide counterpart support including logistics, such as office space, equipment or clerical support for USAID-supported consultants.

It shall also establish and fill certain government positions, designate project counterparts; support training missions and activities; enact and issue complementary city ordinances and relevant memoranda, receive and accept commodities, assist in installing or training staff and deploy other resources needed. 

USAID Mission Director Gloria Steele explained that by signing the MOU on the Cities Development Initiative (CDI), they are willing putting to test a hypothesis: that working with second wave cities to become new growth centers can equally bring up neighboring areas to the development.

This, she said is spreading development and allowing the other areas in the country to experience inclusive growth. 

In her summary to the signing activity, Steele, who also happens to be a Filipino born in Luzon, pointed out that with 6.1% to 7.1% economic growth rates noted in the past years, it is a wonder why poverty has remained virtually the same. 

She cited only Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon enjoying the growth.

With the US assistance into five decades of helping the country improve on its poverty issues, USAID now sees the need to increase the effective demand for secondary cities, thus Tagbilaran. 

Consultations between USAID and Tagbilaran City’s public and private sectors show development challenges with respect to investment growth, improving competitiveness, revenue administration, infrastructure development and finance, energy supply, access to capital, university-business sector-LGU links, health services delivery and health concerns of the youth, and vulnerability to disasters, according to the MOU preamble.

These consultations also highlighted certain opportunities for facilitating inclusive growth in Tagbilaran City through proper planning and targeted interventions, the CDI memorandum states.

Meanwhile, USAID Chief of Party Dr. Henry Basilio also said Tagbilaran City would be the latest cities that the United States is assisting technically, in a bid to make second wave cities become primary hubs.

He named Batangas in Luzon, Ilo-ilo in the Visayas and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao as last year’s CDI picks. More recently are Zamboanga City in Mindanao and Tagbilaran in the Visayas. (RAC/PIABohol)

Chatto signs EO molding
Tourism-HRD-plan group

TAGBILARAN City, Bohol, February 6, 2015 (PIA) –To finally mold a strategic approach to human resource development especially for tourism support services, Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto signs an executive order forming a council that would look at the tourism and industry skills mismatch and, address it. 

No less than United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and Mission Chief Gloria Steele witnessed the signing along with key industry and academe movers in Bohol in fitting rites at the Bohol Tropics, February 5. 

A look at the situation here show that training institutions in Bohol may have intended to prop up the tourism industry with trained workers, but only few land in desired jobs. 

The executive order formulates the Bohol Government Industry Academe (GIA) Council composed of representatives from the local industries, academe and pertinent government. 

It will be a venue for collaborative efforts and dialogue among industries, as recommended in the Bohol Tourism Human Resource Development Plan.

An earlier survey conducted by Philippine Business for Education, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded initiative, showed that while Bohol training institutions look at helping tourism industry by training needed skills, those courses they offered are not the ones Bohol tourism establishments need. 

The survey aftermath also presented to Bohol a Tourism HRD Plan, which hopes to address skills gap and mismatch between new tourism sector graduates and the work slots opened.

On this, Gov. Chatto reiterates Bohol policy to initiate its own promotions program, encouraging and linking industry-academe partnerships to increasing dialogs between industry needs and higher education outputs. 

As such the GIA will act as the implementing arm of the Provincial Government in these development programs, promotion and supervision of industry-academe partnerships with agencies concerned with local industries and post-secondary education institutions, the unnumbered EO said. 

The governor also said the council would create programs centered on increasing industry involvement in academia mainly in curriculum design, setting of faculty standards, and quality assurance, as well as improve the availability and access to local market information on skills demand forecasts and school performance through the voluntary sharing of relevant information between stakeholders. 

The GIA would be formulating 3-5 year agenda, aligned with the GIA Council intentions, without usurping Commission on Higher Education authority.

The council shall coordinate with local industries, post-secondary education institutions, Bohol Provincial Planning and Development Office, and other agencies, draft its initial by–laws outlining provisions, recommend to the governor to engage services of professional technical assistants from the private or government sector, undertake fund raising campaigns, accept donations from reputable sources for GIA undertakings and do all acts necessary, to carry out GIA purposes.

Pick up stopped SSS contributions 
SSS assures: Member
Is always a member

TAGBILARAN City, Bohol, February 6, 2015 (PIA) –Once a member, [you will] always [be] a member. 

The Social Security System (SSS) assures this, with no less than SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros saying that any member who has stopped his contributions can pick up the pace and reactivate his dormant account anytime. 

There is no such thing as lapse in period when a dormant account can become stale, also hinted Marino Talictic, Bohol SSS head.

Workers in the private sector who had started contributing but have transferred to the government, may have stopped.

Government employment carries a mandatory social protection coverage by the Government Service Insurance System.

For former SSS members who are now in government, they can continue their contributions, based on the SSS contribution schedule of as voluntary members. 

This too as the SSS also said they are to serve through social protection from sickness, maternity, disability, retirement, death or funeral benefits for workers in the private sector.

That means, except for previous members in the private sector who are now in government, government employees who wish to be new members, can not be qualified, de Quiros clarified. 

For contribution payments of at least three months within the 12-month period immediately before the semester of sickness, an SSS member who has used up his sick leave claims with pay in the current year, can claim sickness benefit. 

The benefit is a daily cash allowance for the number of days he is unable to work. The claim is 90% of his daily salary credit, good for a maximum period of 120 days, according to the SSS. 

A maternity benefit for female members is also available as long as a member satisfies the minimum requirement: member has paid last three months of contribution within the 12 month period immediately before the semester of childbirth, or miscarriage. 

You can always continue what you have started as member, meaning interrupted contributions, until you have come up with the 120 contributions when the policy matures, explains de Quiros, during his recent visit to Tagbilaran. 

At the Kapihan sa SSS held at the Bohol Tropics Resort, de Quiros and his SSS family also revealed that the company has paid P110 billion in benefits, and for a sluggish SSS, it now has grown into a P42.4 billion net revenues in 2014. (RAC/PIABohol)

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