Council eyed for Mindanao economy

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) Chairman Manny Piñol consulted the private sector on Wednesday and presented his proposal to organize the Mindanao Economic Recovery Facilitation Council (Merfac).

In a virtual forum attended by representatives of business chambers and manufacturing industry in Mindanao, Piñol pointed out that the country’s economy is in its worst shape in the last 50 years.

“There is a need to rev up the recovery of Mindanao economy,” he said.

And to help boost the economy, Piñol wants to organize a council that would represent small businessmen and farmers to government agencies concerned.

“This would be a multisectoral council where the private sector and the government are represented but, personally, I want the private sector to lead,” said the former agriculture secretary.

“MinDa could act as secretariat and provide facility for complaints and other concerns.”
Piñol said Merfac will address problems and issues like transport delays caused by unnecessary checkpoints and alleged corruption in port operations.

“Malaking kawalan ang pagharang ng mga truck sa highway (The impeding of trucks in the highway is a big loss to the economy),” he said. “Delaying the movement of goods slows down the economic activity. If, for example, the cargo of the truck is bananas; when you delay that, the bananas would get ripe.”

Piñol also hit the “agonizingly slow processing and release of loans by government financing institutions.

“While I respect the adherence to the policy of ‘due diligence’ on the part of both Land
Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, I cannot understand why after all of these years, it would still take them long months and even years to decide on whether to approve a loan application or not,” he said.

“This is a totally puzzling practice since it would be very easy for bank experts to determine whether a project being proposed for financing is viable or not.”

Piñol wants government financial institutions to immediately act on loan applications and declare outright whether the proposed project qualifies or not.

“Accept the loan application if the proposed project qualifies and reject it outright if it is not viable,” he said.

Piñol also slammed the delayed implementation of projects by various national agencies in Mindanao.

“The government is not lacking in budget but I don’t understand why it takes a lot of time to access that fund,” he said.

Piñol added Merfac will also act as a monitor on the progress of several undertakings related to our efforts to revive the economy of Mindanao.

The MinDa chief said he will present the inputs from Wednesday’s forum to the government group that includes the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Transportation, Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Agriculture, among others.

“Step one is to consult the private sector and the next step is to meet with the concerned regional offices of national agencies, government financing institutions, law enforcement agencies and local government units,” he said.