MANILA – Around 76 high-impact infrastructure flagship projects amounting to PHP2.4 billion will be pursued in Mindanao to boost economic development in the region.
During the first Philippine Economic Briefing in Davao City on Wednesday, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said some of the infrastructure projects aim to ease congestion and improve connectivity in Mindanao.
These include Davao Public Transport Modernization Project, Mindanao Railway Project, Davao City Expressway, Samal Island-Davao City Connector Bridge, and Panguil Bay Bridge.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the 100-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project, with a total project cost of PHP81.67 billion, is currently in the process of design finalization and right-of-way acquisition.
Bautista also noted that the PHP73.9-billion Davao Public Transport Modernization Project will be funded with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.
On digital infrastructure in Mindanao, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy said over 1,500 free Wi-Fi sites have been deployed and about 1,200 digital transformation centers have been established in villages to assist locals.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. Area Vice President for Mindanao Arturo Milan cited several “bright spots” for Mindanao in sectors such as transportation, infrastructure, healthcare, agriculture, digitalization and energy.
Milan emphasized that energy security has to be “constantly present.”
“Otherwise, all these bright spots in our economy will not be possible,” he said.
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the government has already come up with a budget plan for the priority sectors.
“The sectors he has mentioned, I am happy to note that they are all the same priorities on the expenditure side,” Pangandaman said.
Discussing the priority expenditures in the proposed 2024 national budget, Pangandaman said the government is promoting renewable energy alongside the country’s climate efforts, which will be allocated PHP543.45 billion for next year.
Citing the importance of a whole-of-nation approach, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. discussed opportunities in Islamic banking and finance that have sparked notable market interest from local and foreign investors.
National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Joseph Capuno highlighted key points in the Davao Regional Development Plan 2023-2028, including the creation of an enabling environment to promote investor interest through enhanced physical and digital connectivity infrastructure.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. President John Carlo Tria said business organizations in Mindanao enjoy strong relations with local governments.
“We work together to bring investment to Davao, and this is a window to the rest of Mindanao,” Tria said.
Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma commended the private sector for its valuable contribution to boosting the country’s employment level.
Laguesma said the private sector’s active participation, cooperation and commitment signify that they “continue to trust the government,” especially the Marcos administration.
Interior Undersecretary Marlo Iringan expressed his optimism for improved delivery of public services and better governance and accountability by the local government units, as evidenced by the Seal of Good Local Governance. (PNA)