MULTI-AWARDED ENTREPRENEUR. Edita Dacuycuy, a multi-awarded farmer-scientist-entrepreneur from Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte proudly shows her latest innovative product -- the dragon fruit coffee brew for a nutritious and healthy coffee drink. She is one of the most promising entrepreneurs in the province who envisions to elevate her products in the international market very soon. (Photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)

LAOAG CITY -- Ilocos Norte have seen the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as they have stirred the province’s economic growth, employment, innovation and poverty alleviation in 2019.

As the year ends, the 24th Partuat ti Kailokuan Trade Fair held for the first time at the newly-refurbished Laoag Aurora Park hosted around 50 MSMEs, the biggest number so far of exhibitors in the event.

A priority program of the Duterte administration, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in collaboration with local government units and other national government line agencies have doubled their efforts in addressing the needs of MSMEs which account for 99.5 percent of established businesses and employ 62.8 percent of the country’s workforce.

Provincial Director Rosario Quodala of the DTI Ilocos Norte said the MSME Development Plan 2017-2022 focuses on inspiring more local communities to venture into business and for small and medium enterprises to become large scale.

Job Generation

As Ilocos Norte continues to develop its agro-industrial economy to realize its vision of becoming one of the best small provinces in the country by 2020, thousands of jobs are being posted in local government’s social media pages and the Ilocos Norte Public Employment Services Office (PESO) every month to provide job opportunities for the locals.

Record shows that out of the almost 3,000 job fair applicants in 2019, a total of 1,178 were successfully hired on-the-spot.

Compared to previews years, there was a 93% increase in applicants who were instantly hired this year. These are based on figures from the different job-matching activities held almost every month at the Robinsons Mall in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte.

This is apart from the hiring of at least 124 students through the Special Program for the Employment of Students at the Ilocos Norte Capitol.

Next year, the Ilocos Norte government will also revive the Sagip Nars program, which hired registered nurses to serve public health facilities in the province.

Sustained Tourism Growth

With improved roads leading to various eco-tourism sites in the province, Ilocos Norte continues to attract thousands of local and foreign tourists every year.

For 2019, the Provincial Tourism Office was able to hit its target of welcoming at least one million tourists every year.

Thanks to various local government units’ aggressive tourism promotion efforts to make Ilocos Norte a premier summer destination of the north, aside from the Department of Tourism’s continuing efforts to develop and promote new tourism sites as well as making the province ready to host national conventions and sporting events.

Likewise, Ilocos region has already become a destination for international cruise ship companies in the Asia Pacific and it has made Currimao town in Ilocos Norte as one of their cruise homeports.

Crime rate drops

Residents of Ilocos Norte continue to enjoy a “generally peaceful” status in terms of crime incidents. However, there is a significant increase in traffic accidents this year.

Based on records of the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office (INPPO), public safety index has increased from 888 to 1,093 vehicular accidents, a 27% increase from last year.

Reckless imprudence resulting in physical injury records the highest with 77% increase (from 287 to 507 cases), reckless imprudence resulting in homicide with 6% (from 48 to 51 cases), and reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with 2% rise (from 523 to 535 cases).

Cited causes of vehicular accidents were drunk driving, human error, lack of skills, and lack of road signage, among others. (PNA)