Qatar Fund hopes to back BARMM development projects

THE Qatar government hopes to fund development projects in the Philippines focused on infrastructure, human capital development and assistance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In a statement Friday, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) has committed to provide assistance in these areas.

Mr. Dominguez said QFFD will likely help fund the government’s efforts to support BARMM, peace-building programs in the south, and strengthen Islamic banking. It will also support targeted sectors such as education, fisheries development, rural infrastructure development, health care, disaster risk reduction and management and the energy sector.

“We are encouraging more investments in this region to improve the lives of its people in underserved island communities… I look forward to further working with you in achieving our shared goal of inclusive growth and the development of areas under the BARMM,” he told the QFFD delegation during a meeting in Manila last year.

QFFD is the Qatar government’s external development assistance organization for developing countries, backing economic and social development programs through loans, grants and technical assistance.

Mr. Dominguez added that the Philippines will consider further cooperation with Qatar on other possible investments and on sustainable development.

Samer Frangieh, a QFFD senior advisor, expressed interest in providing assistance to development projects in education and health care, expanding livelihood opportunities in fisheries and initiatives to bring former rebels back to the economic mainstream.

Mr. Frangieh said he will seek out other agencies in Qatar that could fund other BARMM projects not covered by QFFD’s mandate.

He added that Qatar could lend its expertise to the BARMM on disaster and risk managament and response to help the earthquake victims in North Cotabato’s 63 affected barangays.

“We will be coming back with our work hat, not the thinking hat. We will put our words to action and hopefully we will be reaching out to the various departments we have networked to kind of indicate and insure that the priorities are properly set,” Mr. Frangieh was quoted as saying.

BARMM Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said the regional government hopes to convert former rebel camps to “economic-producing areas.”

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y. C. Joven has been assigned to work on the framework agreement with the Qatar government “to ensure their seamless bilateral cooperation.”