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Mindanao seen to grow by 7%-8% this year

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The economy of Mindanao is forecast to grow by up to 8% this year with projects boosting agricultural output. Mindanao produces eight of the country’s 10 agricultural export commodities, among these fresh and processed fruits, coconut products, aquaculture products, and rubber. -- BW FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY — The economy of Mindanao is forecast to grow by up to 8% this year with projects boosting agricultural output, investments in urban areas, and improved business confidence arising from the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, an official of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said.

Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro, MinDA deputy executive director, said the”7-8%” growth projection for this year would likely be higher than the expected “6.9-7.5%” in 2018.

“This is against the backdrop of martial law being imposed in Mindanao,” Mr. Montenegro said in an interview last week.

In 2017, when martial law was first declared on May 23 as fighting broke out in Marawi City between extremist groups allied with the Islamic State and government forces, “Mindanao posted a robust growth of 7.1% … higher than its 6.4% growth” in 2016, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

“Mindanao was able to demonstrate strongly last year,” Mr. Montenegro said, with key cities showing “notable growth… in real estate development, business process outsourcing, export-oriented agricultural products and the surge in construction activities.”

This year’s projected growth is in part anchored on Mindanao “performing strongly in agriculture output” given government interventions lined up, including projects under the Department of Agriculture-implemented Philippine Rural Development Project.

Mindanao produces eight of the country’s 10 agricultural export commodities, among these fresh and processed fruits, coconut products, aquaculture products, and rubber.

In the urban areas, Mr. Montenegro cited government infrastructure projects and the continued entry of real estate developers, particularly for high-rise buildings, which would prompt demand for power supply.

Mr. Montenegro said Mindanao’s growth also hinges on the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which would create a new autonomous region that would be given higher funding support from the national government and expanded fiscal share from local resources.

In 2017, three of the Mindanao regions registered robust growth in their gross regional domestic product (GRDP), higher than the national gross domestic product of 6.7%, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) at 7.3%, Davao at 10.9%, and SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City) at 8.2%. The three other Mindanao regions’ GRDP growth rates were: Northern Mindanao, 5.9; Caraga, 4.3%; and Zamboanga Peninsula, 2.3%. — Carmelito Q. Francisco

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