AUSTRALIA HELPS IMPROVE ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno today formally signed an agreement for a Provincial Road Management Facility, a five-year project that will assist the Philippine Government manage and maintain more than 1000km of provincial roads in up to 10 provinces in Mindanao and the Visayas.
Under the agreement, the Australian Government, through its international development agency AusAID will provide about Php3.8 billion (A$100 million) over five years. The contribution was earlier announced by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, at the Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting held in Manila in October 2008.
“Australia is working with the Philippine Government at both the national and local levels to increase investments in transport infrastructure. In partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Provincial Governments, the facility aims to boost the local economy by improving road transport,” Ambassador Smith said.
“By 2014 an estimated four (4) million people will have better access to rehabilitated and maintained road networks, economic activity and public infrastructure and services that will improve their livelihoods. Better roads will also improve access to jobs, health services and essential social and educational facilities in rural and regional areas.”
“If provincial governments achieve agreed reforms, an incentive program will provide additional funds for road-related infrastructure works and other provincial government development priorities allowing them to further improve service delivery.”
For his part, DILG Secretary Puno said, this assistance is a welcome one and indeed timely and relevant as it is in line with the economic stimulus plan of the government.
He said the Australian Government has been a partner of the DILG in providing technical assistance to local government units. The facility will carry out a comprehensive capacity building program to help partner provincial governments better address and overcome constraints in road network planning and management.
Present at the signing ceremony were provincial government leaders of the initial seven (7) provinces that will be covered by the program: Governor Erico Aumentado of Bohol, Governor Robert Barbers of Surigao del Norte, Governor Oscar Moreno of Misamis Oriental, Governor Loreto Leo Ocampos of Misamis Occidental, Governor Maria Valentina Plaza of Agusan del Sur, Vice Governor Aurelio Tionado of Guimaras, and Governor Jose Ma. Rubin Zubiri of Bukidnon.
Australia is a long-standing development partner of the Philippines and one of the country’s largest bilateral grant aid donors. In 2008¬–09, the Australian Government will provide an estimated Php4.4 billion in development assistance, focusing on economic growth, basic education, and national stability and human security.