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Marawi, Agus-Pulangi key issues in Minbizcon

The rehabilitation of Marawi City and the two hydropower complexes are among the points that are expected to be discussed in the three-day Mindanao Business Conference in Iligan City that opens today.
Based on the six-point policy agenda by the organizing Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation of Iligan submitted for the event, a soft copy of which was obtained by BusinessWorld, the organizers want the Department of Trade and Industry and “other relevant government agencies especially those who are members of the business and livelihood sub-cluster to continue, enhance and further accelerate efforts to assist the Marawi business community through external marketing and promotion of local products and services.

It added that the department must also conduct the orientation on the supplier development program “soonest to explore potential opportunities with the business sector.”

The agency and the financial institutions are also urged to “design and support and expanded and Marawi-specific financing packages with risk-mitigation features for the entrepreneurial business community in Marawi.”

It also called on the Department of Information and Communications Technology to “ strongly urge private telecommunications companies to immediately establish the necessary infrastructure to improve telecommunication connections in Marawi. And, explore with the Board of Investments for the grant of fiscal incentives.

The city has been undergoing rehabilitation as the result of an armed conflict between the government and the reported members of the extremist group Abu Sayyaf Group.

On May 23, 2017, President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued a proclamation order declaring Martial Law in Mindanao as a result of the armed conflict. The order has been extended, although some parts of Mindanao, like Davao City, have urged Mr. Duterte to limit the scope of the order in areas known for armed conflicts.

The policy agenda also focuses on the rehabilitation of the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric power complexes, saying these power assets are critical to the Mindanao power industry and that the industry has “far ranging ramifications on the business climate and competitiveness dynamism of Mindanao.”
It urged the Finance and Energy Department, in coordination with the National Power Corp. to prioritize the project in include it in the 2020 National Energy Program.

On the privatization of the two power assets, the agenda pointed out other options must be explored other than the privatization of the assets based on Electric Power Industry Reform act. Among these options is a “hybrid privatization where the operations and maintenance can be privatized but the ownership of the facility remains with government.

“The other option is to exclude (from privatization) the Agus and Pulangi,” it added as it called on the agencies to come up with a dedicated section on their websites on the updates of the rehabilitation program as well as the privatization of the assets.

Other issues that the organizers want to discuss with national government representatives include;

  • upgrading of the airports in the cities of Pagadian, Ozamiz, Surigao (and Siargao), Camiguin; and as well as the modernization of the Laguindingan Airport, it being among the five airports that are considered big;
  • the comprehensive implementation of the Roads Leveraging Linkages for Industry and Trade which was started in 2018 and which is part of the five-year program of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the development of more funding for the projects under the program;
  • the status of the Trabaho Bill, a proposal aimed at creating more jobs by pushing companies to invest more and providing them with incentives, and its implications to business;
  • and, the institutionalization of the Whole-of-Nation Approach, a national government policy anchored on development specially in addressing insurgency.
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