The Manila Times : Agri groups welcome Balisacan as NEDA chief

By Eireene Jairee Gomez | The Manila Times

TWO agriculture organizations welcomed the return of economist Arsenio "Arsi" Balisacan as the head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) under the administration of President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

Balisacan was NEDA chief during the administration of President BenignonAquino 3rd and was the first-ever chairman of the Philippine Competition Commission.

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) expressed optimism that Balisacan will address pressing issues in the agriculture sector, particularly importation and the country's reliance on the global market amid the pandemic.

"Arsi is a good choice. He has had an extensive background in agriculture, rural development and poverty issues, including being DA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning when I was the DA Secretary," FFF National Chairman Leonardo Montemayor told The Manila Times in a message.

Agriculture industry group Sinag also welcomed the appointment of Balisacan as NEDA chief. However, they want to hear his policy pronouncements.

"We have yet to hear his current policy pronouncements. We hope that his stint at the Philippine Competition Commission has opened his eyes on the realities on the ground," Jayson Cainglet, executive director of Sinag, said in a statement.

"We have had several focus group discussions with the commission on the real situation of the agri sector such as over importation and reliance on the global market, reduction of tariffs that only benefitted importers, high cost of farm inputs, and limited government support," he added.

Balisacan, a native of Ilocos Norte, is a former dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics. He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Hawaii, MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and BS in Agriculture (magna cum laude) from the Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte.