The FINANCIAL -- Northern Mindanao, among the most progressive regions in southern Philippines, is already a vibrant business center reaping the benefits of economic zones, heavy industries and agribusiness enterprises. Initiatives that further enhance the growth of business in the region and the entire Mindanao will be crucial to generate more quality jobs and reduce poverty in the entire country.
The forum “Mindanao Today, Mindanao Tomorrow: Enabling Business for Jobs Creation,” was organized by the World Bank, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Philippine Business for Social Progress to highlight key reforms that would support private business growth, according to The World Bank .
Mindanao, home to one third of Philippines’ poor but only one quarter of its population, unlocking Mindanao’s potential will be critical to bring down poverty in the entire country. That’s one of the key findings from the World Bank report “Philippines Mindanao Jobs Report: A Strategy of Regional Development,” launched in April, which was also featured at the forum.
“We are primarily eyeing the Mindanao Development Corridors as a mechanism to achieve an integrated and globally-competitive Mindanao, and Northern Mindanao can truly be our logistics hub as it hosts the Laguindingan Airport and the Mindanao Integrated Container Terminal (MICT),” said MinDA Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto.
The Northern Mindanao Region is part of the larger Mindanao Development Corridors, a key spatial strategy adopted by MinDA. The corridors strategy aims to improve infrastructure, establish connectivity, and spur the development of growth clusters within the island-region, allowing it to achieve balanced and inclusive growth among its regions. Within the region is Mindanao’s Business and Industrial Trade Cluster and the gateway to domestic markets in Visayas and Luzon.
“Improved skills of the labor force, better power supply, simplified business regulations, and lower cost for starting and operating a business are important to further enhance the growth prospects of the region and the entire Mindanao,” said Mara Warwick, Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. “Higher internet connectivity could promote not only job growth, but also promote internet-based delivery of health and education services to remote communities.”
Among the major programs and projects slated for implementation to improve the investment climate in the region are the Panguil Bay Bridge, which will provide uninterrupted access from Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities to Tangub, Oroquieta, and Ozamiz cities and the rest of Misamis Occidental and the Zamboanga Peninsula; the development of the airports in Ozamiz, Surigao, and Laguindingan; and the construction of the Northern Mindanao High Standard Highway.
In order to unlock Mindanao’s potential, the “Philippines Mindanao Jobs Report: A Strategy of Regional Development,” also identified a need for a comprehensive strategy focused on three key areas:
Raising the productivity of Mindanao’s farm and fisheries sector and improving its connectivity and access to local and global markets;
Investing in health, education, skills training, and social protection for the poor; and
Addressing the drivers of conflict and strengthening institutions in conflict-affected areas.