MANILA, Philippines - If the government is able to achieve and sustain peace in Mindanao, the region is bound to surpass the growth of the whole of Luzon, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters this week maximizing Mindanao's potential for growth and development, through a Bangsamoro economic plan, will be the focus of the discussions at the Philippine Development Forum (PDF) to be held in Davao in January 2013.
"If we succeed in solving the peace and order problem, Mindanao will boom. It will grow faster than Luzon because the peace and order problem is the only one constraining it. If you get that (out of the picture), I'm very positive it will grow much faster than Luzon," Balisacan said.
No room for disappointment
The NEDA chief said with the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement in place, investors can start looking at the region and plan for the long term. This will give birth to industries that will usher in jobs and investments.
Balisacan said these new investments can focus on agriculture and tourism as well as allied industries. He said Mindanao's abundant natural resources makes it the perfect "food bowl" and the richness of Muslim culture makes the region an attractive tourist destination.
He said the important thing to do now is for the government to carefully craft the Bangsamoro economic plan. He said government agencies are now working on their own plans which will then be consolidated at the PDF.
The PDF will also gather the country's multilateral and bilateral development partners. Balisacan said the PDF also hopes to raise funds to finance Mindanao's economic growth and development.
"As I said, if we succeed in sustaining peace, achieving peace in that area, I'm very certain that the growth of Mindanao will be faster than the rest of the country," Balisacan said.
"The people there must not be frustrated this time, (they) must not be disappointed this time so getting our acts together is a must," he stressed.
Balisacan said currently, Luzon which includes Metro Manila, accounts for about 50% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). In 2011, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said Metro Manila accounted for 35.7% of the country's GDP.
The NSCB data showed that in 2011, no region in Mindanao made it to the top 5 contributors to GDP. But, the two regions that contributed the least to GDP were located in Mindanao.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO PH GDP IN 2011
|Region||Share to GDP (%)|
|Region||Share to GDP (%)|
If Mindanao grows faster on the back of a significantly improved peace and order situtaion, Balisacan said the region's current share of 18% of GDP is also bound to significatly increase.
"Metro Manila now accounts for more than 1/3 (of GDP), around 50% (share of GDP) of Metro Manila and neighboring regions in Luzon, whereas Mindanao accounts for 18% or less. But that can rise if we can get development and investment to the region," Balisacan said.
The Philippine economy posted an average growth of 3.9% in 2011. However, in the first semester of 2012, the GDP growth reached an average 6.1%, exceeding the government's full-year target of 5% to 6%. - Rappler.com
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