Private sector must be proactive
By Alex How in Cebu City

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo urged the private sector to play a more proactive role in the progress of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), during the 3rd BIMP-EAGA Summit Friday at Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa.

Also attending the summit was His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesian President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The summit was held on the sideline of the 12th Asean summit in the central city of Cebu.

His Majesty welcomed the signing of the BIMP-EAGA Memorandum of Understanding on Expansion of Air Linkages by ministers after the summit, a press release stated.

His Majesty added that if BIMP-EAGA could ensure quick, easy and safe transportation in the sub-region, it would contribute to efforts in establishing the Asean Economic Community.

His Majesty further stressed that the success of BIMP-EAGA's cooperation depended very much on everyone being involved at all levels including businessmen and women and the people.

This would bring a sense of togetherness and commitment in developing the sub-region.

Meanwhile, Arroyo cited the importance of BIMP-EAGA's development partners in harnessing the full potential of the growth area.

"It is the private sector of the region that plays a crucial role in economic integration. We hope that we can urge the private sector to play a more proactive role in the implementation of BIMP-EAGA flagship programmes and projects," she said.

Arroyo cited the sub-regional grouping's initiatives such as the halal poultry project, renewable energy, and environmental concerns.

"We are confident that with the support of the region's development partners, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), People's Republic of China, the Northern Territory of Australia, we shall be able to harness the region's potentials and create an environment conducive to further trade and investments," she added.

The Philippine president took the opportunity to thank leaders of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia for their valuable support towards the Philippine government's efforts in dealing with the security situation in Mindanao.

Malaysia was the facilitator of the peace process and head of the ceasefire monitoring team in Mindanao, while Indonesia is chair of the Committee of Eight and Brunei is a member of the ceasefire monitoring team and host to Madrasah scholars from Mindanao.

"We have been able to mend together confidence building measures grounded on strong faith dialogue and cultural awareness, invest in economic and basic infrastructure and development of mutual security arrangements to keep peace in Mindanao," Arroyo said. (14th January 2007)