DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 March) — Mindanao will get a bigger share of the national budget for 2019, more than the 11.45% average share in the country’s total budget in the past, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.
Dominguez told the Philippine Economic Briefing at the SMX Convention Center Davao on Friday that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is expected to complete the draft of the proposed budget for Mindanao by mid-April this year.
“By that time, we will be able to see exactly what the share of Mindanao is going to be. I don’t know the exact number at the moment but certainly it’s going to be high as a percentage of total than what it was in the past,” he said.
Dominguez said Mindanao is at the center of the government’s “Build, Build, Build,” a five-year massive infrastructure initiative worth P8 to P9 trillion that lists down high impact projects that envision to “increase the productive capacity of the economy, create jobs, increase incomes, strengthen the investment climate leading to sustained inclusive growth.”
In a text message on Thursday, Romeo Montenegro, Executive Director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said the Mindanawon lawmakers threw support behind the MinDA’s proposal for additional budget of P1.35 trillion that will be spread on a four-year period.
Montenegro added the interagency working group, composed of National Economic Development Authority, DBM, MinDA, and the House Committee on Mindanao Affairs, was formed to work out details to “map out strategies and address bottlenecks in terms of budget allocation and utilization for Mindanao.”
A press release issued by MinDA on March 2, it said Mindanao has been receiving on the average 11.45% share of the country’s total budget over the last decade, which is less than Mindanao’s average contribution of 15.29% to the economy since 2007.
“For us in Mindanao, getting tired is a luxury we cannot yet afford. So we will continue to knock on your doors until we get what Mindanao rightfully deserves,” MinDA chair Abul Khayr Alonto said.
He added the budget increase will focus on the prioritization of sustainable infrastructure development that encourages development of industries, small and macro enterprises (SMEs), ecotourism, and other projects that contribute more to poverty alleviation.
He said the proposed budget includes an additional P603 billion to fund the priority programs and projects of under the Mindanao Development Corridors (MinDC), such as land transport connectivity, Mindanao gateways, and the Trans-Mindanao-High- Speed Railway system.
“We have all the potentials here – we are the source of food and industrial raw materials of the country. Building roads, upgrading ports and airports, and establishing economic zones are the key to unlocking Mindanao’s potentials,” Alonto said.
Alonto also proposed the construction of Tawi-Tawi Freeport and Economic Zone, Picong Freeport, airport, and industrial estate, the next segments of the Trans-Mindanao High Speed Railway Project, and the establishment of Agri-Economic Cooperative Zones in the Bangsamoro areas to address food security. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)