BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN— Key government and private sector representatives of the four-country BIMP-EAGA sub-region have converged here Feb 14 for the group’s annual strategic planning meeting aimed to map out programs under its Vision 2025.
Currently held at the Brunei International Convention Center, the 2018 BIMP-EAGA Strategic Planning Meeting takes on the sub-region’s five pillars of development which include connectivity, food basket, environment, tourism as well as socio-cultural and education.
The BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a sub-regional cooperation founded in 1994 in order to spur business activities within the economic area.
“This year’s meeting focuses concretizing steps to operationalize strategies under the BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025 as adopted by the Heads of States during the EAGA Leaders Summit in Manila last year,” says Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro, deputy executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), which serves as the Philippine Coordinating Office for BIMP-EAGA.
Montenegro said the Brunei strategic planning meeting endeavors to translate the strategies under BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025 into priority and doable programs and projects of the five pillars or clusters which are designed to increase trade, investments and tourism.
He added that a number of the identified projects include establishment of new air and sea links, cross-border power interconnection and renewable energy development, agribusiness development, better trade facilitation arrangements, socio-cultural exchanges, eco-tourism and green cities development, among others.
“Cluster-specific and convergence projects will be presented to the Senior Officials during the meeting where we also expect guidance and directives to ensure implementation and collaboration with the private sector,” he stressed.
Following the launch of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung RoRo Shipping Route in April last year, another route Buliluyan, Palawan-Kudat, Malaysia RoRo route is expected to open next month. The proposed direct Zamboanga-Sandakan flight is likewise seen to commence within the first half of the year.
“Amid challenges, BIMP-EAGA remains a vital initiative that demonstrates ability to achieve bottoms-up socio-economic integration with the ASEAN region,” according Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, MinDA Chairperson and Philippine-EAGA Signing Minister during a recent briefing with House Special Committee on EAGA Affairs at the Philippine Congress. `