Qatar fund eyed for Mindanao projects
Qatar’s aid and development arm is looking into funding human development and infrastructure projects in the newly established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement Friday, the DOF said Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III recently met with officials of the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) led by its senior adviser, Samer R. Frangieh.
QFFD is a Qatari public institution coordinating and implementing external development assistance projects on behalf of the State of Qatar to help Arab countries and developing economies across the globe implement economic and social development programs through loans, grants and technical assistance.
During their meeting, Dominguez told the visiting Qatari delegation that areas that would benefit immensely from Qatar’s support included the government’s capacity-building efforts for BARMM, peace-building, the normalization of the peace process, Islamic banking, education, fisheries development, rural infrastructure development, health care, disaster-risk reduction and management and the energy sector.
Specifically for BARMM, Dominguez said that the government was encouraging more investments in this region to improve the lives of its people in underserved island communities.
Dominguez said that assistance to the new Bangsamoro government was crucial in ensuring that its transition to a regional government would be successful.
The finance chief said that the DOF was working closely with BARMM officials to help them set up the Bangsamoro regional government and in scouting opportunities to expand development assistance to the region.
For his part, Frangieh expressed deep interest in providing QFFD assistance to development projects in the Philippines, including the BARMM, especially in the areas of education and health care, expanding livelihood opportunities in the region’s fisheries sector, and initiatives to bring former rebels to the economic mainstream, the DOF said.
Frangieh was also quoted by the DOF as saying that he would ask other Qatari agencies besides QFFD to likewise finance BARMM projects while also extending the Qatar government’s disaster-response assistance in areas flattened by recent strong earthquakes in Mindanao.
The DOF quoted BARMM Minister for Finance, Budget and Management Eduard Guerra as saying that the region was welcoming QFFD’s offer to assist them especially in helping transform some 40,000 former combatants in the region to productive individuals and law-abiding citizens.
BARMM Minister for the Interior Government Naguib Sinarimbo was also quoted by the DOF as saying that the Bangsamoro government was planning to transform rebel camps into economic-producing areas.
Dominguez asked Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven to jointly craft with the Qatari government a framework agreement between the Philippines and Qatar to formalize their planned bilateral cooperation. —BEN O. DE VERA