‘No project changes or cancellations’ pledge
KOTA KINABALU: The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) assured that all flagship projects in areas to be replaced under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will see no changes and cancellations.
This includes among others the establishment of free ports and eco-zones in the region that will bring back the dynamic economic activities in Western Mindanao to take advantage of the larger market under BIMP-EAGA and Asean.
MinDA’ Chairman, Datu Abul Khayr D. Alonto said the reinstatement of free ports will bring back the “barter trade activity to improve agro-productivity, promote trade and commerce with the member countries of EAGA”.
“Through the efforts of MinDA along with other agencies like DEpartment of Trade and Industry (DTI) ,barter trade is expected to spur the economy, create jobs, and provide options for a better life,” Alonto said.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal had said the barter trade system between Mindanao ,Indonesia and Sabah would be revived in March among measures to curb the smuggling of subsidised goods from Sabah to neighbouring countries.
The initiative to re-establish the trade suspended the past two years is still in discussion so as to identify a better and organised system.
Shafie said implementation of barter trade also provides opportunities for selling and trading of goods between countries in this region.
“The government is not only creating cooperation and foster trading ties with neighbouring countries, but when looking back at history, traders in Sabah had been making lucrative profits from barter trade.
“For instance, people in neighbouring countries prefer to buy goods from Malaysia compared to goods from other countries,” he had said.
“It (barter trade) is a cooperation pact between Sabah with the Philippines and Indonesia to grow the economy in the region, adding it has helped economic growth in the East Coast such as Sandakan, Tawau and Kudat.
last October, Shafie announced that the State Government would revive barter trade on Jan 1. However, the implementation was postponed to March due to security concerns following kidnapping and cross-border crimes by militants from Southern Philippines.
In addition to the establishment of the free ports and eco zones, Alonto revealed that there is also a flagship project for the installation of Agro-Economic Cooperative Zones to promote” rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise and rural tourism” in the areas of Malabang, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte and North Cotabato.
MinDA’s corridor projects in the BARMM will still be implemented despite the ongoing transition from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to BARMM.
Its Phase 1 projects are the improvement of the major airports in Zamboanga, Davao, General Santos, Languindingan, Bukidnon and Cotabato. – Nikko Fabian