CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—This city will be asserting its role as the gateway to the second-largest island in the country, and the industrial core and trade center of the south.
This as the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) sees the potential of the region as the most competitive, efficient and attractive transshipment venue for industrial ventures, as well as the leader in high-value agri-based and fishery products.
Leon M. Dacanay, Neda regional director for northern Mindanao, said the competitive advantage of the region includes vast agricultural lands, natural resources, a huge potential for industrial development, presence of power generation, and peace-loving, skilled and literate work force. Neda said Mindanao would be at the forefront when the Philippines integrates with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations starting 2015.
Dacanay said Mindanao’s preparation for Asean integration is outlined in the goals and objectives of Neda from 2016 to 2030, to face the challenges in the years to come. Neda is projecting that Mindanao would have an annual real growth of gross domestic product at 7 percent to 8 percent in 2016 and 8 percent to 10 percent in 2020 to 2030.
Dacanay said in the near future, at least 90 percent of the national roads in Mindanao are paved and in good condition, including the water-based transport services within the island. The establishment of a limited railway system is also considered an economic boost. “This would include the upgrading of main arterial roads into world-class, all weather highways and build new ones where necessary,” Dacanay said. Neda said that by 2030, the water-based transport services are a common feature of an integrated multimodal Mindanao transport system—a coherent and interactive array of interdependent network.
“All these projections would entail reforms in policies and regulations that have rendered the transport and logistics systems inefficient and costly. For example, the cabotage law and high import tariffs on steel products along with the attached industries, ” Dacanay said. He said Neda is in the process of preparing a long-term plan for a railway system that is closely coordinated with other infrastructure plans. Neda also underlined the prioritization of the upgrading and expansion and modernization of existing airports. Dacanay said by December 2014, the Laguindingan Airport will start serving night flights. On mining, Neda said Mindanao still has untapped reserves of mineral resources, which when utilized, will further boost the island’s already growing mining industry.
“Such development eminently would require significant maritime- transport support,” Dacanay said. Talking of maritime transportation, Dacanay said there is a need to revisit domestic cargo shipping rates. The need to lower the rates is necessary to make it more competitive with the international averages. “If this will materialize, it is expected that more agri-based industries will relocate to Mindanao, especially those whose raw materials are primarily sourced from the island, thus the need for more maritime transport support,” Dacanay said.
Written by Butch D. Enerio / Correspondent