Economist: Oro can be Mindanao’s powerhouse

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Sunday, February 16, 2014


MAKATI CITY -- With its sustained economic growth and the leveling up of its competitiveness recently, the possibility of Cagayan de Oro becoming Mindanao’s new business and financial center is no longer remote, according to a former executive of a government policy-making body.

“It has a good chance,” said Cayetano Paderanga Jr., former director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and a noted economist, referring to the city’s possible status as Mindanao’s new economic leader in the near future.

But Paderanga said, so much has to be done, as Cagayan de Oro needs to compete with Davao city if it wants to be called the go-to area for investors and financial movers and shakers.

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He said things are looking good for the city, as it is experiencing positive growth.

“The competition is very good for both. Northern Mindanao and Davao regions are, I think, very alive. Right now, the two are almost exactly at the same place. The momentum, in fact, is on region 10’s side. But we will see what happens,” Paderanga told Sun*Star Cagayan de Oro in an exclusive interview last week.

For his part, Mayor Oscar Moreno said the prospect of the city as the Mindanao’s new site for trade and commerce has always been on his agenda.

“That’s our dream, that’s our objective, that’s our mission,” said Moreno when asked by Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro on the possibility of the city as the new economic powerhouse.

Moreno said the City Government has identified new growth areas in Cagayan de Oro.

“Cagayan de Oro is a huge city. There are plenty of potential growth areas here, and these should be harnessed,” he added.

Paderanga said the development could start in Cagayan de Oro but it has to spread out. “That’s how it will work.”

But Paderanga said roads have to be opened up so that traffic will flow freely to and from the city.

“We hope the road connecting Laguindingan airport to the rest of Mindanao will be opened soon. And roads connecting Cagayan de Oro to other areas, as well,” he said.

Great potentials

Paderanga said Northern Mindanao has a lot of potential and with good governance practices in almost all areas, the region and its neighboring areas are experiencing an upbeat economy.

“Iligan city will also grow with Cagayan de Oro—as twin cities. Also, Caraga is growing faster,” he said.

He said he doesn’t see too much of bottlenecks for the city, except for the infrastructure.

“There will probably be some rearranging of some infrastructure in Cagayan de Oro so traffic can be easier. I think that’s part of the development plan they’re making,” Paderanga said.

He added: “We are hoping that over time Mindanao’s eastern and western sides will be connected. The bigger it is the more potential it has, so put them together.”

Prepared

Paderanga said it’s not difficult for the city to welcome new investments.

“Actually, it’s on the way. We’re getting it prepared. I think they’re (local and national governments) working on that plan,” he said.

Moreno said Cagayan de Oro has always been ready for new investments.

Paderanga opined what makes the city investor-friendly is its economic performance.

Paderanga cited that the city’s economic outlook for the year is quite good as exports picked up in the last quarter of 2013.

“Let’s hope it continues,” he said.

Paderanga added that with the local economy that keeps on growing, “the prospects for the next three years looks promising, it could extend to five or even seven years. And if we improve the governance, then the growth rate can even go higher.”

“Cagayan de Oro is a very thriving regional economy,” he said, adding that the city has most of the fundamentals covered: peace and order, stable power, very good human resource and enough investors to keep the local economy afloat.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 17, 2014.

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