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Bohol, USAID partner in water projects

Bohol and the United States Assistance for International Development (USAid) have partnered on a major water and sanitation venture of lasting impact on the economy and lives of the Boholanos.

      The tie-up will paved the way for the development of resources for a more sustainable bulk water supply and address widespread sanitation concerns, thereby also reducing,, many health risks.

 

      Gov. Edgar Chatto and USAid Mission Director Gloria Dino-Steele sealed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) in a ceremony that recorded another milestone public-private partnership (PPP) in this part of the country at the Amorita Beach Resort in Panglao on Wednesday.

      The agreement was witnessed and also signed by USAid Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project chief of party Dr. Enrico Basilio and Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) president Atty. Emmanuel Tumanda, who came along with fellow chamber officials.

      Under the Partnership for Growth (PFG) Agreement between the Philippine and US governments, the USAid is tasked to implement the COMPETE project which aims to support government’s effort enhancing industrial competitiveness and attaining inclusive growth thru better infrastructure.

      The province prioritizes adequate, reliable water supply and sanitation facilities to meet the present and future demands for domestic uses and tourism, commercial, industrial and agricultural developments.

      Steele praised the administration of Chatto and Vice Gov. Concepcion Lim, who led the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members also witnessing the signing, for “doing exactly the right thing” for the province which she rated as “one of the best I’ve been to.”

      The agreement inking was witnessed, too, by Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell “Baba” Yap II, Dauis Mayor Miriam Sumaylo, Provincial Legal Officer John Mitchel Boiser and provincial planning and development officials.

      Sustainable sufficient water is a critical demand on the prime tourism island of Panglao alone where Dauis is also located while the ambitious new Bohol airport costing over P7 billion is finally to take a concrete form until finished probably by the end of 2015 instead of mid-2016.

      The USAid official commended the province for the “partnership for growth” which can open more areas for collaboration.

      Coincidentally, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Adm. Rene Villa discussed related concerns with Chatto during the former’s visit here on the same day of the signing with the USAid.

      In his first State of the Province Address (SOPA) as a reelected governor for second term, Chatto identified bulk water supply development among his major infrastructure projects to attain the “BIG LEAP,” which means “Bohol’s Inclusive Growth Leads to Equitable and Accelerated Prosperity.”

EXECUTION MODE

      The Bohol Water and Sanitation Project (BWSP), as formally called, is considered for implementation under a PPP mode, which provides a viable alternative to traditional procurement in order to meet the infrastructure needs.

      The scheme eases government budget constraint; offers efficiency gains because of private sector’s specialization; allows risk-sharing between the government and private sector; accelerates project execution and completion; and reduces project cost due to managerial efficiency and innovative design of the private sector.

      The province and USAid intend to consider the preparation and development thru PPP of the BWSP for potential technical support under the USAid COMPETE.

      The USAid COMPETE provides technical assistance in the development of project documents such as feasibility study, transaction documents, and bid terms of reference for the successful procurement and implementation of the BWSP.

      Scope, obligations, implementation arrangement and other details of the cooperation will be immediately drafted jointly by a COMPETE team and the provincial government.

      The USAid COMPETE is a five-year project that seeks to up the levels of domestic and foreign investments, create increased employment chances and raise domestic incomes through quality infrastructure, more competitive industries, and credit facilitation.

      It seeks to fulfill the goals of the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan of improving national competitiveness by, among others, increasing productivity and efficiency in the key sectors of the economy.

      The project will thus work through and promote public-private partnerships to improve investment climate, trade capacity and business competitiveness.

      As it increases access to adequate water supply and sanitation, the BWSP will contribute to the socio-economic well-being of the Boholanos.

      Bohol, with Chatto as its vice governor then, already had  experience with the USAid thru the latter’s Governance and Local Democracy Project (GOLD), which followed a demand-driven, assisted self- reliance approach to technical assistance.

      The GOLD was designed to demonstrate that through decentralized governance, local communities can accelerate development to improve local government operations and community participation in the delivery of public services, including infrastructure.

      Among its institutional legacies is the Bohol Poll done yearly by the Holy Name University – Research Center using expertise acquired from the Social Weather Station (SWS) through the GOLD of USAid, Chatto said.

      The university, an alma mater of the governor, was chosen as one of the six Centers for Local Governance in the country.

                The linkage with USAid on water and sanitation is easily transforming Bohol into another model in the country after the nationally-admired trailblazing and trendsetting initiatives and practices of the province under Chatto.(Ven rebo Arigo)

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