ADB bares new projects for BIMP-EAGA

MANILA (MindaNews/06 April) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has unveiled a blueprint for the implementation of fresh socio-economic and development projects within the surging Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) in the next five years.

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretary general, said the implementation blueprint details strategies and new funding commitments from the ADB and other private sector groups for the implementation of a range of projects on enhancing food security, connectivity, tourism, infrastructure and environment, among others, within the sub-region.

BIMP-EAGA comprises the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; the provinces of East and West Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Maluku island chain and Irian Jaya in Eastern Indonesia; the federal states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Eastern Malaysia; and, the islands of Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines.

Surin said the ADB-initiated blueprint was presented and formally adopted during the 8th BIMP-EAGA Summit held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Wednesday afternoon.

“There are projects, strategies and common commitments to go out and support, and attract attention from dialogue partners and from the private sector,” he said, summing up the blueprint’s details.

But the official said they have yet to determine the total financing requirement of the projects that were included in the blueprint, which will be implemented starting this year until 2016.

“Overall, these projects are part of the regional strategic approaches to the ASEAN framework to create an equitable (regional) community,” Surin said in a post-20th ASEAN Summit interview with selected
Southeast Asian reporters at Phnom Penh’s Raffles Hotel Le Royal late Wednesday afternoon.

Agriculture Undersecretary for Operations Joel Rudinas, who joined the sub-regional summit in Phnom Penh, said the blueprint has taken special focus on enhancing food security initiatives in Mindanao.

He said among the initial projects in the area that would be implemented through an ADB funding will be on aquaculture development.

“It’s set for approval this week,” he told MindaNews.

ADB said BIMP-EAGA’s implementation blueprint mainly aims “to better operationalize” the implementation of broad strategies set in the development roadmap for accelerating economic development that was earlier adopted by the sub-region.

It takes off from the ongoing implementation of 12 BIMP-EAGA priority infrastructure projects worth about US$1 billion in the areas of transport, energy, trade facilitation and information and communication technology, it said.

“The (implementation blueprint) seeks to identify and prioritize doable, collaborative sub-regional projects that will generate immediate and direct impact on increasing trade, tourism and investments. It will have results frameworks to help monitor progress in achieving specific outcomes,” the ADB added.

Meantime, BIMP-EAGA leaders reiterated their commitment to deepen their cooperation to ensure the speedy implementation of various sub-regional initiatives in the area.

Such commitment was issued during the summit by Vice President Boediono of Indonesia, Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, President Benigno S. Aquino III and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam.

“We reaffirmed our commitment and support to the BIMP-EAGA cooperation initiatives and we agreed to step up our individual and collective actions to more effectively address the issues and challenges that continue to impede the realization of BIMP-EAGAs vision and goals,” the leaders said in a joint statement.

They noted the current progress on the expansion of air linkages in the sub-region and expressed support to initiatives that would identify additional points outside of BIMP-EAGA to sustain air
services of existing routes and encourage the entry of new sub-regional air connections.

The leaders urged the relevant national agencies to extend special regulatory arrangements to entice entry of players in the air and shipping services within the sub-region.

In terms of food security, they reaffirmed the potential contribution of the food basket strategy of BIMP-EAGA in achieving food security in the sub-region and the entire ASEAN as well as expressed support to initiatives to jointly enhance the production capacity and strengthen cross-border trading of raw materials in the area.

The leaders also urged their agriculture and fisheries officials to work more closely with the private sector in forging joint venture projects related to food production and product or resource consolidation; establishing a policy and incentive environment, particularly on trade facilitation measures.

The joint statement sees the leaders encourage relevant sectoral ministries to actively involve local governments and the private sector in developing a strategic plan of action to protect and conserve the sub-region’s forest and marine resources and biodiversity.

“Consistent with our commitment to actively engage in addressing climate change issues both at the global and regional levels and recognizing its significant implications to connectivity, food basket and tourism initiatives, we also directed our relevant sectoral ministers to start discussions at BIMP-EAGA level towards addressing sub-regional climate change issues both in terms of mitigation and adaptation,” the statement said.

The leaders urged the private sector to play a more pro-active role in implementing initiatives that will encourage public-private partnerships as well as introduce innovations in project development.

They affirmed their “support to various business initiatives of the private sector in BIMP-EAGA and encourage the BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BEBC) to actively engage private sector individuals, groups and industry associations into business interactions within and across the sub-region, as well as sourcing out funds to implement their projects, programmes and activities.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)