KUALA BELAIT, BRUNEI DARUSSALAM - A policy package for potential investors is being proposed to ensure that transport linkages within the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) will not be short-lived.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman and Philippine Signing Minister to the BIMP-EAGA Secretary Datu Hj. Abul Khayr Alonto believes that these incentives should immediately be in place especially that some of the successful launches and voyages of inter-EAGA routes over the years have been put on hiatus due to weak policy support.

“At this point, a more decisive action is being sought from all of us to ensure sustainability in terms of transport connectivity,” Alonto said during his speech at the 22nd BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Belait, Brunei Darussalam last November 26, 2018.

Alonto said that the incentive scheme can jumpstart from an administrative level and focus on simplifying the process of approving requirements for private firms that are interested in transport investments within EAGA. Fiscal incentives, on the other hand, will depend on the entry of these projects and its subsequent turnout.

“We hope that this setup along with the new policies signed within the ASEAN economic community will build private sector confidence in EAGA and possibly lead to investments in our priority routes which happen to be underserved,” he added.

The incentive package also supports the recent developments within the sub-region which include Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive order on reviving barter trade in Mindanao and the joint memorandum of understanding on nonconventional-sized ships (NCSS) by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN which was recently signed as well.

He added that the State of Sabah has also expressed its support in the renewed barter trade arrangements with Mindanao during his meeting with the state’s Chief Minister of Trade a few months ago.

“This a good time for all of us to take full advantage of these favorable initiatives by operationalizing these policies within BIMP-EAGA in the soonest time possible. We do not want to fail again in this aspect,” he added.

Member countries from the sub-region are also urged to closely monitor their respective state and provincial agencies on the actual implementation of agreements and protocols in the sub-region.

“Some of the recurring complaints from investors indicate that local agencies do not recognize these arrangements within BIMP-EAGA and that bottleneck should be addressed immediately,” Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary and BIMP-EAGA Senior Official Abdulgani Macatoman said.

The BIMP-EAGA initiative was first established in 1994 as a shared strategy among its member countries with the end goal of accelerating socio-economic development in the less developed and geographically remote areas in the sub-region. It takes a public-private approach, with the private sector serving as the engine for growth and its public counterpart as its enabler.

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