USAID to pour $145 M into Mindanao in next 5 years

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 March) — Between $125 million and $145

million, mostly for infrastructure development, will be poured into Mindanao

with the decision of the United States Agency for International Development

to extend for another five years its Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM)

program to further spur development in the island.


Raymond L.. Edler, USAID supervisory regional contracting officers, on

Sunday said they are looking for a contractor to implement the program

across Mindanao.


Mr. Edler said they will hold a pre-proposal conference on March 23 at

USAID’s office in Pasay City to give interested contractors opportunity to

ask questions.


Interested contractors have until April 27 to submit their proposals for

GEM’s phase 3 program.


The extended program will focus on infrastructure development, with each

project cost in the barangay level pegged between $5,000 and $50,000,

USAID’s call for proposal said.


Regional impact projects will have construction cost exceeding $50,000 up to

$4 million, it added.


The GEM Phase 2 program, which focused on livelihood development, is winding

up this year. Its contractor is Louis Berger Group Phils. Inc.


Aside from the basic contract of up to $145 million, the new five-year

program is allocating $12 million to $16 million for optional components.


The GEM program has been USAID’s “flagship” activity in Mindanao since 1996,

the development agency said in a briefer.


It is the largest and best known of all the various USAID programs and

activities in Mindanao. It is an “umbrella” program under which USAID is

able to support a wide range of different activities intended to contribute

to peace and development in Mindanao.


Initially conceived as a five-year program which would run from 1996 to

2001, USAID subsequently decided that the GEM program was such a useful and

effective effort that it would continue the program until 2007.


At this point, because the GEM program has continued to be seen as useful

and effective, USAID has decided to support another extension.


The new GEM-3 program will have many of the attributes and follow many of

the same practices that have contributed to the success of the GEM-1 and GEM-

2 programs.


Mindanao, home to about 22 million people, has been beset by a Moro

separatist rebellion for more than three decades now.


The Philippine government signed a peace deal with the Moro National

Liberation Front on September 2, 1996 and is presently talking peace with

the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


The peace negotiation between the government and the MILF, however, has been

stalled over contentious ancestral domain issues.


A few years ago, US President George W. Bush committed $30 million aid for

Mindanao once both sides forge a final peace agreement. (MindaNews)


About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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