NEDA sees Marawi siege’s end raising confidence

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Damaged houses, buildings, and a mosque are seen inside the war-torn in Marawi City on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. — PHILSTAR/KJ ROSALES

THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) expects a further pick-up in business and consumer confidence in Mindanao now that the occupation of Marawi City has ended and the rehabilitation program being readied for implementation.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, in a statement released yesterday, said “investors who may have put on hold their plans to expand their business or set up new ones, as well as consumers who have postponed their purchases, can now carry out their plans with greater boldness and certainty.”

“We are optimistic that the people of Marawi will be back on their feet as soon as possible. With this, we anticipate a renewed boost in business and consumer confidence in Mindanao,” Mr. Pernia said.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Deputy Executive Director Romeo M. Montenegro, in an earlier interview, said stakeholders, for their part, have “always banked on the resiliency of Mindanao” and the ability to rebuild better after challenges.

“In fact, several incidents in the past such as the Zamboanga siege (in September 2013), a year after that, the Zamboanga Region has been able to overcome and been able to move again in terms of achieving investment activities,” he said.

Mr. Montenegro also said that both the public and private sectors in Mindanao continued to be “optimistic in terms of being able to push for investments and economic growth” amid the prolonged Marawi fighting, which broke out on May 23 and was officially declared over on Monday, Oct. 23.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has reported that business outlook for the fourth quarter of 2017 turned more positive, with the confidence index rising to 51.3% from 42.7% in the previous quarter. Consumer sentiment also turned more upbeat as the confidence index increased to 17.8% from 13.6% in the same period.

“This confidence is expected to be reflected in the country’s gross domestic product growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2017 and the succeeding quarters of 2018,” Mr. Pernia said.

NEDA has been working with Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) in the rehabilitation plan for Marawi.

TFBM, led by the Department of National Defense, is an inter-agency group created through the President’s Administrative Order No. 3 to plan and implement the recovery and reconstruction of Marawi City, which has been heavily damaged by battle between government troops and Islamic State-inspired extremists.

NEDA, together with the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management, is in charge of resource mobilization.

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said in September that the rebuilding of Marawi could require up to P50 billion.

The ongoing planning includes inputs from the local governments of Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province as well as the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“The government is committed to integrating crucial peace-building activities in the recovery and rehabilitation program. The ensuing peace-building efforts will also help ensure stability in the Mindanao region and help attract longer-term investments and boost greater consumer confidence,” Mr. Pernia said.

Mr. Montenegro, meanwhile, said, “In the case of Marawi, it is important to point out that historical and cultural dimensions play an important factor and role in making sure the reconstruction and rehabilitation is going to be implemented in a manner by which the people in Marawi and Maranaos want it to be accomplished.”

For Mindanao as a whole, the MinDA official said “activities all through the past years” have been pursued “to achieve better performance in terms of economic growth,” and the country’s south is ready to keep moving forward. – with a report from Maya M. Padillo