USAID sets economic aid to 3 Philippine cities seen as ‘key growth areas’
ILOILO CITY, Philippines—The United States government has launched a comprehensive economic development program involving the pilot cities of Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Batangas.
US Deputy Chief of Mission Leslie Bassett and Gloria Steele, director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID)–Philippines, signed a memorandum of understanding over the weekend with Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog in the launching of the Cities Development Initiative (CDI).
The program to be implemented by the USAID, the development arm of the US government, will focus on higher education, energy, environment, health, economic growth and investment sectors.
Bassett said the CDI formed part of the US-Philippines Partnership for Growth (PFG) launched last November, which has brought together 15 US federal agencies to provide assistance to promote economic growth in the Philippines.
“Growth is really key to ending poverty, to creating jobs, to building opportunities. President Aquino has made it one of the pillars of his administration. We think he is absolutely right and if there’s any way we can do to help boost growth a little bit more, I think that will benefit everybody,” Bassett told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday.
The CDI would focus on fast-tracking investments in the city through partnerships among the USAID, the city government, the business community, the academe and non-government organizations, she said.
Steele said the three cities were selected based on a set of criteria. These include the existence of a strong potential for development, a local government that is committed to economic reforms and good governance, a large number of educated and skilled human resource, and strong partnerships between the public and private sectors and non-government organizations.
Steele said the three cities were being eyed as key growth areas that would impact on neighboring communities.
“Iloilo City was selected as one of a small number of cities to become a ‘center of growth’ under the CDI because of its demonstrated economic potential. We applaud the commitment of Iloilo’s government to promoting good governance and attracting investment. It takes a strong partnership between the public and private sectors to work towards long-term and inclusive development,” Steele said.
The CDI would call for the synchronization and coordination of USAID projects in an area that would address key issues that hinder investments and growth. These include high electricity cost, water supply and sanitation, disaster risk management, streamlining of business processes, access to loans by businesses and lack of link between the academe and industries, according to Steele.
The five-year project will include USAID’s technical assistance, feasibility studies and loan guarantees to stimulate investments and growth.
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