DOF vows government support for Mindanao economy


FINANCE Secretary Benjamin Diokno assured leaders of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) of government support by facilitating investments in infrastructure.

“[T]he Department of Finance (DOF) stands ready to support the [MinDA] by strengthening its relationship with bilateral and multilateral development partners,” Diokno said during the Mindanao Development Forum 2023 on Thursday.

“We are continuously working with international development partners on priority programs and projects in key sectors in Mindanao,” he added.

Diokno said the government is determined to “turn the ‘Land of Promise’ into an economic powerhouse” by boosting infrastructure and transportation on the island, which are crucial to increasing connectivity with surrounding regions.

“The idea is to link and integrate markets, connect urban centers to rural areas, and facilitate the movement of people and goods to expand access to more opportunities for local industries. Ultimately, this will boost productivity,” the Finance secretary said.

Moreover, the government has committed to sustaining annual infrastructure spending at 5 percent to 6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), aligned with the National Economic and Development Authority’s (Neda) Public Investment Program (PIP) 2023 to 2028.

Of the total 3,770 infrastructure priority programs and projects in the PIP and to be implemented within the medium-term, 1,310 are located in Mindanao amounting to P1.2 trillion.

Furthermore, 30 out of 194 high-impact Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) approved by the Neda Board are intended to directly support investments in Mindanao.

These include the Mindanao Railway Project, Samal Island-Davao City Connector Project, Cagayan de Oro Coastal Road, Davao City Expressway, and preparation for New Zamboanga Airport, Bukidnon Airport, and the New Siargao Sayak Airport.

Diokno said that the projects would adopt an optimal mix of financing from various development partners through Official Development Assistance (ODA), General Appropriations of the National Government, and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

Data from the Neda showed there are 97 active or ongoing loan-funded and grant-funded projects and programs being implemented in Mindanao as of end-December 2022. On top of this, there are 35 ongoing projects with total loan and grant commitments of $4.2 billion from bilateral and multilateral development partners.