TAGBILARAN City may have live up to its epithet as the “City of Friendship” as it hurdled the criteria for pilot cities under the Cities Development Initiative (CDI) launched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). And City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II readily accepted, not only the granting of help from USAID, but also the challenge to make this city economically developed and business-friendly and liveable.
Manifesting his commitment, Mayor Yap signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that picked this city under the CDI during the visit here yesterday of United States ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg. USAID mission director Gloria Steele, who joined in the ambassador, also inked the MOU. The city is now joining the CDI’s model cities of Batangas, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo, having what USAID called “innovative urban development approach.”
USAID said that strict criteria were being followed, including an enabling environment of growth; credible city government committed to good governance; committed local partners; engaged private sector; and high likelihood of producing impact.
The city is selected as one of the beneficiaries of CDI which aims to create vibrant and livable cities for balanced urban growth. “CDI provides an opportunity for USAID to strengthen its programming by being more strategic and focused in pursuit of shared objectives across its portfolio in the areas of economic development and governance, education, health and environment, energy and climate change.”
The MOU provides for the USAID and this city to cooperate in the “catalytic, sustainable, transparent and equitable economic growth” in speeding up of the inclusive growth of the city.
On its part, the USAID is committed to assist the city in infrastructure, education, energy, environment, health, disaster preparedness and mitigation. It also intends to provide funds, depending on the availability of fund, technical, training and commodities.
Under the MOU, the city commits to provide support to any undertaking, including office space, personnel in administrative, clerical for USAID consultants and legislative support in the form of ordinance and administrative issuances.
CDI came following the US and the Philippines in 2011 “agreed to a Partnership For Growth (PFG) to address the most binding constraints to economic growth and development in the Philippines.” The said program established by President Barack Obama aims to promote broad-based, inclusive and resilient growth.
CDI aims to foster an open and competitive business climate; facilitate investments in high-value industry clusters; enhance human capital development and promote industry academe linkages; strengthen health services; and ensure urban environmental resiliency.
Goldberg graced the inauguration of the USAID-COMPETE project exhibit and other USAID projects in Bohol yesterday at Bohol Tropics Resort Club minutes after he arrived at the city arport where he was welcomed by Mayor Yap and Gov. Edgardo Chatto and other provincial and city officials.
This is the ambassador’s second visit here. The first was on Dec. 12, 2013 when he personally saw first hand the situation of Bohol in the aftermath of magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Bohol on October 15, 2013. The ambassador is expected to visit interior town of Carmen today for inspection of USAID projects. (rvo)