ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) has concluded a three-day regional consultation on August 3-5 with key stakeholders in Mindanao who shared their perspectives regarding critical development constraints and evolving priorities for future ADB assistance to the Philippines under the sick-year Country Partnership Strategy, which is currently under preparation.

The strategy will be aligned with the government's Medium Term Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. The consultation workshop was in coordination with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa).

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

"We are here to enhance ADB's understanding of development priorities in Mindanao, including public and private sector needs, and to conduct outreach activities to promote ADB's programs and projects," Claudia Buentjen, ADB principal country specialist, said.

Aside from the multisectoral consultation, the ADB also conducted a forum "Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth" in the University of the Philippines Mindanao with Dr. Arsenio Balisacan and a briefing on its private sector operations for the Mindanao Business Council.

Buentjen explained ADB loan assistance to the country during this six-year period will amount to up to $4 billion and $30 million in technical assistance.

In his opening remarks, MinDa chair Jesus Dureza thanked ADB for its strong support to Mindanao, especially in its role as regional advisor to the BIMP-Eaga (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area).

MinDa executive director Janet Lopoz also made a presentation on Mindanao 2020 and Mindanao-based regional directors from the National Economic and Development Authority also presented their respective regional prospects.

In addition, the publication "Making a Difference in Mindanao" was launched, which documents ADB assistance to Mindanao over 4 decades.

Since 1969, Mindanao has been a recipient of ADB assistance. Out of 184 completed public sector/sovereign loans to the Philippines as of May 2010, 36 were exclusive to Mindanao worth $815 million while 30 projects implemented nationwide worth $1.2 billion had Mindanao components.

"We hope to contribute to efforts towards better harmonization and complementation of different development initiatives being undertaken by the different development partners," said Joel Mangahas, ADB country specialist and author of the publication.

"So by coming out with this information on ADB-supported projects in Mindanao, we could better coordinate and plan out what would be the most responsive way of delivering development work," he added.

Among the high-profile projects of the ADB in Mindanao are the Davao International Airport regional support to the BIMP-Eaga and projects in agriculture and natural resources, and a road network in Northern Mindanao.

The ADB also conducted similar outreach activities and consultations in Cebu covering the Visayas from 20 to 22 July. For Luzon, it will hold its consultations in late August.