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Mindanao infrastructure budget focused on improving road connectivity

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MANILA—Mindanao, which currently has the lowest ratio of paved roads to overall road infrastructure among the country’s regions, is now set to get a larger allocation from the national government’s proposed annual budget for infrastructure.

This was reported by Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), at a roundtable discussion among business leaders and senior officials on Mindanao infrastructure policy held recently at the Traders Hotel.

The roundtable was organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, which is implemented under the oversight of MinDA.

“Sixty-nine percent of national roads in Mindanao are unpaved.  Mindanao has the lowest paved road ratio,” said Secretary Singson. “It is clear that Mindanao should get a bigger share of the budget.”

Under the proposed FY2013 budget, Mindanao will receive PhP27.62 billion, or 26.1 percent of the national infrastructure budget, up from PhP20.4 billion the previous year.

Infrastructure budget allocations for the other regions are as follows: Northern Luzon - 24.1 percent; Southern Luzon - 20.4 percent; the National Capital Region - 14.6 percent, and Visayas -19.4 percent.

“Our objectives are to improve the country’s attractiveness as an investment destination by enabling seamless connectivity, and to lower the costs of communication and transportation,” said Angelito Colona, PCCI vice president for transportation and logistics.

Secretary Singson also pointed out the bottlenecks in implementing road infrastructure projects in Mindanao, including right of way and security issues, shortage of cement suppliers in parts of the region, the practice of truck overloading which results in faster road deterioration, and the need to integrate ports and airports with road systems.

The meeting included a presentation by the Philippine Inter-Island Shipping Association, on issues affecting freight rates in domestic shipping, focusing on Mindanao.

The roundtable was part of the run-up to the 21st Mindanao Business Conference, or “MinBizCon,” which will be held August 2-4 in Butuan City. The highlight of the annual conference is the presentation of the Mindanao Business Policy Agenda to President Benigno Aquino III.

The formulation of the agenda began with broad-based regional policy consultations held in Mindanao’s major cities to identify and address bottlenecks that hold back trade and investment, and to clarify government rules, regulations and timelines.

Drawing on the outputs of these consultations, a draft policy agenda was compiled by MinDA in collaboration with PCCI. The draft listed the most urgent policy concerns, as well as required government actions and private sector commitments.

The regional consultations were followed by high-level roundtables focusing on specific sectors, including infrastructure, which were held in Manila on July 3-4 with MinDA and Cabinet officials and private sector representatives for a thorough review of the draft policy agenda, and for government to formulate appropriate responses.




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