Business leaders sets policy agenda for Mindanao

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Business leaders in Mindanao have set a policy agenda that is intended for the enhancement of the region’s competitiveness and readiness for Southeast Asian integration in 2015.

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“Through this policy agenda, we intend to work closely with key government agencies in attaining a seamless Mindanao economy, as the country enters into free-trade agreements with its fellow Asean member-nations,” said John Gaisano Jr., the 22nd Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) director.

Asean is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He explained that key points included in the policy agenda were crafted from a series of consultations with nearly 250 Mindanao businessmen and organization leaders, who sought for immediate and long-term solutions to the island-region’s economic issues and concerns.

Among these key sectors include agriculture, energy, information and technology, tourism, small and medium enterprises, logistics and infrastructure, skills development and natural resource management. Gaisano said that besides achieving a regime of affordable and reliable power supply in Mindanao, the island-region also needs to improve on its financing among micro, small and medium enterprises, and agricultural smallholders in Mindanao.

For his part, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Daniel Lim said that the island-region also needs to enhance its infrastructure and logistics support in key production areas to improve Mindanao’s intra-connectivity as well as its national and international market reach.

At the 22nd MinBizCon, President Benigno Aquino 3rd announced that the Department of Public Works and Highways has so far allocated P61.54 billion for road, bridge and other infrastructure projects in Mindanao for 2011 to 2014. The amount is expected to increase with the proposal of P34.29 billion for the 2014 budget.

“We also support the development of Mindanao growth corridors and export gateways, which is being espoused by MinDA in preparation for the Asean integration,” said Lim.

Other points raised in the policy agenda include the amendments in the Cabotage law to reduce transport cost of products coming from Mindanao; improvement of tourism infrastructure; addressing of jobs and skills mismatch; the amendment of the tariff and customs code of the Philippines; and putting in place the policy framework for responsible and sustainable mining practices in Mindanao.

MinBizCon is the largest annual gathering of Mindanao’s key business leaders and government officials to usher more investments and economic activities in the island-region’s 26 provinces, 422 municipalities and 33 cities.

General Santos, one of the largest cities in Mindanao, is hosting next year’s conference.

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