Project backed by EU, Germany seen to boost investments in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 July) — The provincial government of South Cotabato is targeting to attract more investors from the European Union (EU) in the next three years with the rollout of the EU and Germany-backed Partnership for Integrity and Jobs Project or Project I4J.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Tuesday they consider the initiative as a vehicle that could draw major investment and business ventures to the province from companies based in the EU.

The program’s implementer Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung (KAS) had chosen South Cotabato as its eight pilot areas in the country.

Co-funded by the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through KAS, Project I4J focuses on the development of integrity mechanisms and business promotion procedures in all its pilot areas through the help of the private and business sectors.

“The program mainly aims to create model local government units (LGUs) for integrity. The key result is to have a local government system that is free of corruption and red tape,” Fuentes said.

The governor said Project I4J chose the province as among the pilot areas when it was launched last year after passing its requirements.

The local government also signified to implement the necessary reforms that will facilitate the establishment of a model LGU for integrity, she said.

Since its launching in the second quarter of 2014, the provincial government’s key officials and personnel have undergone a series of capacity-building trainings in connection with the program’s implementation.

The local government is currently working on the rationalization of its business permits and licensing system with the help of Project I4J.

Program implementers and KAS officials visited the province on Monday to assess the progress of its rollout.

Fuentes said the province is not getting any direct financial benefit out of the project but it will reap tremendous opportunities if it succeeds.

“If we eventually eliminate red tape and set in a system with integrity, businesses will come in and that means job opportunities for our residents,” she added.

Aside from South Cotabato, the Project I4J is implemented in eight other areas in the country.

These are the cities of Cagayan de Oro, San Carlos in Negros Occidental and Puerto Princesa in Palawan; Naujan town in Mindoro, Tuburan town in Cebu and the Iranun towns of Maguindanao; and, the provinces of Mindoro Oriental and Cebu.

A project briefer said it aims to include LGUs as key players for clean administrative procedures into the Integrity Initiative earlier set up by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club.

It recognizes the role of LGUs as a sustainable network for self-obligation and monitoring of transparent and non-corrupt structures and procedures.

It also aims to create models of transparent, effective small business and investment registration as well as promotion procedures and disseminate them.

Project I4J targets local government leaders and officials, civil society, small business leaders and potential investors as primary beneficiaries. (MindaNews)