By Ali G. Macabalang
DAVAO CITY – Officials of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) have convened lately to review the progress on member countries’ implementation of major projects and key deliverables outlined in the BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025.
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) facilitated the virtual meeting of corridor’s ministers, senior officials and development partners on October 11, which was presided over by Trade and Industry Undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman as designated Philippine signing minister this year, MinDA media relations chief Adrian Tamayo said.
MinDA Undersecretary Janet Lopoz, a BIMP-EAGA Philippine senior official, said the event tackled ways of revving up the implementation of outlined projects to focus on parallel response, management, and recovery initiatives amid the prevailing global health crisis.
Lopoz said the agreed strides included speedy execution of priority infrastructure projects, opening of travel bubbles, improving transport and trade facilitation, implementation of One Borneo Quarantine Initiative, promotion of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) development and cooperation in economic corridors, creation of renewable energy and power energy efficiency, creative industries, and sustenance of support local communities.
Meeting discussants also decided to fast-track e-commerce and support start-ups, develop cross-borders value chain and promote high value food industry, develop BIMP-EAGA Tourism Recovery Framework, foster green investments, sustainable urbanization and smart cities, and reskilling and up-scaling for a competitive workforce, Lopoz said.
“We will continue to rely on the strategic pillars in moving projects forward with economic corridors providing spatial focus. Results-based monitoring and evaluation, as well as reporting, will be more structured to ensure that goals and objectives are met in a timely manner,” Tamayo quoted Lopoz as pointing out at the meeting.
All discussants have reaffirmed their commitment to a more robust socioeconomic convergence across all sectors in the sub-grouping and the greater ASEAN, according to Lopoz, who now steers the MinDA operations after Chairman Manny Piñol resigned lately to gun for a Senate seat.
Before tendering his resignation, Sec. Piñol urged his subordinates and peers to pursue the unfinished MinDA priority strides in Mindanao, notably the solar-powered irrigation and waterworks systems in the Bangsamoro region, as well as job-generating agricultural and fisheries ventures.
At Monday’s meeting, Lopoz presented the highlights of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic to the sub-regions as well as milestones under the strategic pillars and then the status of cooperation and the key achievements with partners.
“Despite the pandemic, activities to promote trade and investment are being conducted in a new normal. Business matching session and forum as well as webinar provide opportunity to establish networks among the private sector and potential business investment as well as sharing on recovery support,” she added.
BIMP-EAGA ministers aired support for collective efforts to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic to their economies and communities, thereby coming out as a more united, resilient, and stronger sub-regional cooperation, Tamayo said.
The high-level assembly was held to provide strategic policy directions in connectivity, food basket, environment, tourism, and socio-cultural and education pillars. The Philippines is this year’s host country. MinDA is the official and permanent Philippine Coordinating Office for BIMP-EAGA (PCOBE), he added. (AGM)