Today is: Wed, May 22, 2013
U.S. Gov't Cites City's Growth Potentials
THE UNITED States government believes in the growth potentials of Iloilo City and its suburbs.
This is the main reason why the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its five-year Cities Development Initiatives (CDI) in the city over the weekend.
USAID Mission Director Gloria Steele said is a new approach towards development that seeks to spark the growth of a key city which will eventually benefit surrounding communities.
The USAID is the development arm of the US government that works with developing countries to provide assistance to various sectors.
Under the CDI, the USAID selected three pilot cities for the first year using some “rigorous criteria” including strong potential for growth.
“The goal is to help promote investments and economic growth in the cities to generate employment and increase incomes for populations. With that goal in mind, we selected cities with strong potential for growth, a local government that’s committed to economic reforms and good governance and has big and strong human resource base. The development premise here is if we find and strengthen cities with huge potentials, then they grow and the areas around them will also grow just like Metro Manila,” Steele said.
Another development approach employed by USAID in the CDI program is a strong partnership and shared responsibilities between the agency and the city government along with the private sector.
USAID launched CDI in Iloilo through a signing of memorandum of understanding between Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and US Deputy Chief of Mission Leslie Basset Friday last week.
The other cities included in the CDI are Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao and Batangas in Luzon.
Areas of concern
Steele said CDI is a whole new approach compared to their existing projects in other provinces which are focused on a specific area of concern.
Under the CDI, the USAID will bring in a package of projects which will be coordinated and synchronized with the local government to achieve its purpose.
“Prior to coming here, a team from USAID went here weeks ago to talk to the City government, the Iloilo Business Club (IBC), universities to find out the areas that we could be working in. And we are also looking at the constraints to economic growth,” she added.
Among the concerns raised by various Iloilo sectors would be high electricity cost, problems with water supply and sanitation, difficulty of access to loans by businesses.
The USAID will also try to address the lack of link between industries and universities which is concerned on developing schools that will support the human resources needs of existing industries.
USAID also identified weak health systems and disaster risk reduction, management policies and streamlining of business permits processes as possible areas where they can work with Ilonggo leaders.
Steele said they will eye a specific energy project with the city government to lower down electricity cost with particular focus on renewable sources of energy. They will also support the link between Iloilo and US universities and industries “to strengthen curriculum, teaching and the students to increase level of education and promote more innovations.”
Not just BPOs
Steele said a pure service-oriented industry, except for tourism, cannot accelerate growth.
“Call centers can only employ as many people to work and they are the only ones who benefit from their job. What we have in mind is to develop the tourism which will in turn develop the food industry and transportation. There is a whole train of industries that will benefit from the project,” Steele added.
The USAID official said the project will provide technical and funding assistance to the local government once specific projects are identified.
“During the discussions, we will require the local government to reduce red tape, come up with policies that will be conducive to businesses,” Steele said.
Steele said aside from technical studies, they can also help bridge the local government to funding institutions for projects that will spur small and medium enterprises.
“We are also going to see what we can do to bring in private-public partnership like what we did with the IBC in prioritizing key infrastructure projects,” Steele added.