The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Economic Growth and Linkages Cluster (ARMM-EGL) convened with the World Bank (WB) group, one of the development partners of the regional government, last December 8, 2015, at the Regional Planning and Development Office (RPDO) Conference Hall, ARMM Compound, Cotabato City to address economic issues in the region.
Issues discussed and presented during the meeting were the insufficient power supply in Basilan, and job generations in Mindanao.
"We have hydroelectric power in Basilan but it is not suffice. We also have solar panels in Basilan's coastal areas but we have a problem with its area," Asec. Myrah M. Alih, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, said.
Atty. Ishak Mastura, Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) Managing Head and Rapid, Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth Cluster Chairperson, stressed that one solution to boost regional economy is to provide power supply and create an economic zone.
Economic zone opens regulations that are geographically designated to the different areas in the country. It contains measures that are conducive to foreign direct investment. Economic zone is one of the growth initiatives towards government's strategic objectives of industrialization, regional development and employment creation.
Besides solving the power supply issue, the cluster listened to the World Bank group's presentation underscoring their approach to job generation which was the Mindanao Jobs Report (MJR). The MJR is a report documenting the story of the Mindanao from the perspective of jobs, supporting Mindanao 2020, Filipino 2040 and the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP), focusing on detailed, practical and actionable recommendations and job opportunities, and having intensive engagement with stakeholders. They also proposed that the region should be urbanized to create multiple job opportunities.
Mr. Karl Kendrick Tiu Chua, WB Senior Economist, said during his presentation was eight (8) cities in Mindanao dominate and have potential for growth. These are Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Davao, Cotabato, General Santos, Marawi and Zamboanga.
Asec. Myra Alih suggested that regulated urbanization is what we need to avoid issues on food security. It should be science-based development.
The EGL meeting was facilitated by the RPDO, as the Regional Economic and Development Planning Board (REDPB) technical secretariat. It was attended by different regional agencies such as Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Regional Port Management Authority (RPMA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Regional Economic Zone Authority (REZA), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), and Freeport of Polloc.
The EGL is one of the convergence strategies of ARMM under the cabinet cluster that aims to attain the national goal of reducing poverty rates and creating quality employment.