THE United States government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAid), launched on Friday, October 27, 2023, a new partnership with the Philippine government to help fast-track the economic development of nine cities outside Metro Manila.
USAid’s five-year, P625 million ($11 million) Urban Connect Project will fund capacity-building initiatives and provide technical assistance that will help build thriving economic hubs in nine partner cities: Batangas, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, and Zamboanga.
Under this program, USAid will work closely with partner cities’ local governments to facilitate enterprise growth, streamline the business permit system, reinforce public financial management, promote e-governance transition, and enhance cooperation between neighboring cities.
In addition to economic advancement, the project will also improve health and education services, promote climate resilience and disaster readiness, and champion gender equality and social inclusion in partner cities.
The launch, which coincides with the celebration of World Cities Day on October 31 and the Philippines’ Local Government Month, gathered partners and representatives from the private sector, supporting agencies, and the Philippines’ national and local government led by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos and Anti-Red Tape Authority Director General Ernesto Perez.
“As your partner in prosperity, the US government seeks to strengthen the capacity of our partner cities and surrounding areas to become not only centers of economic growth, but also beacons of inclusivity and innovation,” said USAid Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn. “The Urban Connect Project fosters sustainability and resilience and ensures that no one is left behind as these cities progress.”
“Aligned with our vision in building competitive, resilient, sociall protective, and safe LGUs, we believe that USAid’s Urban Connect Project will complement and can help in further supplementing the efforts not only of DILG but also of other government agencies in enhancing public service delivery and advancing local economic development,” Abalos said.
The new partnership builds on the gains of USAid’s ongoing Cities Development Initiative (CDI), which has helped introduce key economic reforms and boosted the competitiveness of its pilot cities such as Batangas, Iloilo, and Cagayan de Oro.
USAid’s Urban Connect Project also aligns with the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 and supports the US government’s goal to boost the country’s regional competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting inclusive and resilient economic growth. (PR)