Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority Director General, Dr. Emmanuel F. Esguerra, was keynote speaker during the second Mindanao Shipping Conference conducted 27 April 2016 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.

In his statement, Secretary Esguerra conveyed that the Philippines is expected to remain one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, with its GDP growth targeted to reach 6.2 percent in 2017. He said that this vibrant view on the Philippine economy is also shared by the private sector which forecasts real GDP growth to reach 5.8 to 6.3 percent by 2017.

“The growth-enhanced fiscal space has allowed major investments in infrastructure, with spending on public infrastructure more than tripling. The bulk of investments are slated for transportation, covering 43 percent of total infrastructure investments from 2013-2016 and beyond which is estimated to reach more than 7 trillion pesos. This shall be complemented by private investments in public infrastructure amounting to about 1.5 trillion pesos based on the status of PPP projects as of April 2016”, he said. The Secretary likewise shared the implementation of the Three-year Infrastructure Rolling Program (TRIP) by July 2016, which tightens the link between investment programming and budgeting, ensuring the funding of ongoing programs and projects during the life of the project’s implementation.

He also mentioned some issues on Mindanao sea transport sector which included the limited capacity of Mindanao seaports (berthing structure, transit/cargo shed area for no-containerized cargo, container yard for containerized cargo, and passenger terminal building) and the need to reduce domestic cargo rates given the more expensive rates in Mindanao compared to foreign cargo rates. Further, with Mindanao playing a critical role in the ASEAN Economic Community, the following sea linkages need to be established or improved: Zamboanga-Sandakan (Malaysia), Davao/General Santos-Bitung, Manado (Indonesia), Zamboanga-Muara (Brunei), and Tawi-Tawi-Tarakan (Indonesia).

The event, which was organized by PortCalls, the Philippines’ only shipping and transport guide, and the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association, Inc. (PISFA), convened cargo and forwarding transport industry representatives and stakeholders from the Mindanao area. Other resource persons include representatives from the Mindanao Development Authority, Bureau of Customs, Davao International Container Terminal, Maersk-Filipinas, Inc., PISFA, and the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.

The Socioeconomic Planning Secretary shall likewise keynote the First Visayas Shipping Conference in Cebu City on 28 April 2016. (Catherine A. Laguesma-NEDA XI)