Remarks by Lawrence Hardy II, Mission Director, Cities Development Initiative (CDI) MOU Signing Between USAID and the City Government of General Santos

Monday, November 27, 2017
Lawrence Hardy II, Mission Director, Cities Development Initiative (CDI) MOU Signing Between USAID and the City Government of General Santos

[As Prepared]

[Greetings]

I am delighted to be here in General Santos City, this being my first official trip outside Metro Manila and my first time to Mindanao. I represent the United States Agency for International Development, commonly known as USAID. USAID is the lead U.S. government agency that works to end global poverty and enable democratic, resilient societies to realize their potential. I bring you the greetings of the U.S. Ambassador, the Honorable Sung Kim.

It is only appropriate that my first field visit be at the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines” given the long-standing partnership between the U.S. government and General Santos City.

General Santos City has been a steadfast partner of USAID through the years, with various projects supporting infrastructure development, economic growth, environmental protection, education, health and governance. This strong partnership between our two governments helped transform this progressive city into a gateway to the Central Mindanao region.

General Santos City plays a crucial role as a regional hub with its international airport, fish port complex, access roads to and from adjacent cities, and strategic location in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippine-East Asia Growth Area. The transportation and logistics network here stimulates the growth of business and trade, particularly for agricultural, fish and seafood industries, not only here in General Santos City but also the surrounding areas.

General Santos is also considered the Philippines’ most active port city and tuna capital, producing 30 to 35 tons of yellow fin tuna a day. For three consecutive years, canned pineapple and canned tuna exports alone generated more than 16 billion in annual revenues for the region.

Moreover, the city’s national standing as among the most competitive highly urbanized city for overall competitiveness in the 2016 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index confirms the city’s economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure to host large business investments.

Last year, General Santos City expressed interest in becoming one of USAID’s Cities Development Initiative, or CDI, partner cities. Under CDI, USAID partners with cities outside Metro Manila to fulfill their potential as engines of inclusive economic growth. CDI is an important initiative under the Partnership for Growth with Equity, a partnership between our two governments that seeks to advance and sustain broad-based and resilient growth that benefits all Filipinos.

After a selection process conducted by USAID early this year, I am pleased to announce that General Santos City has been selected as a CDI partner city. You are joining seven other USAID partner cities—Batangas, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga. Like the other CDI cities, General Santos is recognized as a regional growth hub with an enormous potential for growth, livability and dynamism.

The Memorandum of Understanding that we are signing today signals the formal launch of this CDI partnership and demonstrates both parties’ commitment and mutual responsibility to pursue inclusive and resilient economic growth in the city and surrounding localities.

USAID, through CDI, will provide a range of technical assistance, drawing from resources in economic growth, health, energy, environment, democracy and governance, and education to assist the cities to achieve inclusive and resilient growth.

It is important to note that while the MOU signing is happening only now, the city has already been off to a great start. USAID has been working with General Santos City since early this year to streamline its business permit and licensing system. Later in the program, we will be launching its newly-enhanced system which will help businesses in the city to register and renew their business permits.

I wish to thank Mayor Ronnel Rivera for welcoming USAID and working with our implementing partners in this endeavor.

Let me also acknowledge the local business chamber and other members of the private sector for playing an active role in advancing our initiatives in the city. I urge you to continue this vibrant relationship with the city government as we work towards further improving the local investment climate, supporting the development of high value industries, enhancing the quality of health and education, facilitating urban-rural linkages, as well as fostering resilience in the environment.

We are optimistic this partnership will bring General Santos City to greater heights to achieve its full potential as a regional growth hub that advances peace and prosperity for both the region and the country.

Daghang salamat at muli, Maayong buntag kaninyong tanan!

Issuing Country 

Last updated: December 14, 2017

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