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Speeches & Transcripts August 6, 2018

Mindanao Today, Mindanao Tomorrow: Enabling Business for Job Creation

Honorable Secretary Abul Khayer Alonto of the Mindanao Development Authority;
Honorable Mayor Oscar Moreno;
Ms. Ma. Alegria Limjoco, President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
Mr. Elvin Uy, Operations Manager of the Philippine Business for Social Progress;
Honorable governors and mayors;
Leaders of the business sector;
Leaders of the Civil Society Organizations;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Maayong Buntag Kaninyong tanan! [Good morning to all of you!]

It is a great honor to welcome each one of you here today to discuss a very important topic – Enabling Business for Job Creation.

This topic is even more important today with the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. This new legislation provides us an important opportunity to accelerate the virtuous cycle of peace, job creation and economic development and prosperity. Let us seize this opportunity and find ways to create more jobs.

This forum is part of the World Bank’s continuing partnership with the Mindanao Development Agency, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Philippine Business for Social Progress to discuss the key findings of the report titled “Philippines Mindanao Jobs Report: A Strategy of Regional Development” which was published last year and formally launched in Davao City in April 6 this year.

Let me highlight the main message of the report: In the long-run, progress in the entire country depends on growth and development in Mindanao, in which Northern Mindanao is going to play an important role.

If we all work together – the government, the private sector, civil society, and development partners – Mindanao’s potential today can be unlocked for a more vibrant Mindanao tomorrow where Filipinos will have a chance for a better life.

Since its publication, this report quickly became a platform for informing and exchanging notes about what the government, particularly the Mindanao Development Authority, and other stakeholders, especially the private sector, are doing to support the vision of a progressive Mindanao.

Please allow me to tell you a bit about this report.

For decades, the World Bank has been working with the Philippine government, private sector groups, civil society, and the academe on various programs and projects in Mindanao. The Bank has been supporting the country on various initiatives including social protection, health, education, infrastructure, community-driven development, and peace-building.

As we travelled around Mindanao, many people were telling us that if the country could unlock the great potential of Mindanao, the Philippines could accelerate poverty reduction faster and promote prosperity for all.

In response, the World Bank started working with MinDA and other government agencies, stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, people’s organizations, development partners, and experts from the academe to develop a strategy for the whole region of Mindanao, that would show how to accelerate development in the region, while paying special attention to the poorest and most vulnerable areas.

The result of this collaboration is the Mindanao Jobs Report. This study has gone through a very extensive consultation process, which included the Northern Mindanao Region.

Everyone we spoke to had the same message: the challenge for Mindanao is how to speed up inclusive growth or growth that creates more and better jobs, reduces poverty, and helps strengthen the prospects for peace.

Reflecting on the collective knowledge and wisdom of Mindanao’s leaders and stakeholders, and supported by analysis conducted by the World Bank and local think tanks and universities, the report came up with recommendations around three major development areas, namely:

  • Raising the productivity of Mindanao’s agriculture and fisheries sector and improving connectivity to markets;
  • Boosting human capital and social protection for the poor; and
  • Addressing the drivers of conflict and strengthening institutions in conflict-affected areas.

The report’s recommendations speak about what the country’s policymakers and economic managers can do to unleash the energy of the private sector – the region’s industrialists, farmers, cooperatives, and agribusiness entrepreneurs – to create more jobs and economic opportunities for broad-based growth.

That is the theme of our forum today – enabling business for job creation. And nowhere is this theme more apt to be discussed than here.

With the presence of economic zones, heavy industries, and agribusiness enterprises, and a thriving business process outsourcing sector, Northern Mindanao is among the most progressive regions in Mindanao and can contribute more to the country’s economic transformation if important reforms gain firmer traction.

For instance, improved skills of the labor force, better power supply, simplified business regulations, and lower cost for starting and operating a business are important to further enhance the growth prospects of the region and the entire Mindanao.

Also, higher internet connectivity could promote not only job growth, but also internet-based delivery of health and education services to remote communities.

I’m happy to learn that Cagayan de Oro City, the urban center of the Northern Mindanao Development Corridor, is undertaking important reforms to improve the business environment. Cagayan de Oro has introduced a one-step assessment of all business at the City Treasurer’s Office instead of requiring visits to all agencies. It has computerized its business registration procedure and is now among the fastest cities for registering business. It’s something that the rest of the region could emulate.

Before I end, please allow me to thank the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Korean Trust Fund for all their support to this endeavor.

Thank you very much and may we all have a very fruitful discussion today.

Daghang Salamat! [Thank you very much!]