NINE CITIES outside Metro Manila will receive a total of P624 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to help modernize their services to the public and their financial management.
The Urban Connect Project, supported by the USAID Cities Development Initiative partnered with the city governments of Batangas, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, and Zamboanga.
“Our approach is comprehensive. From economic development to the development of health and education, from improved public services to increased private sector engagement,” USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn said in a speech at the program’s launch event.
The project started in August but was officially launched on Thursday, Urban Connect Activity Chief of Party Alex B. Brillantes, Jr. said.
Mr. Brillantes said Urban Connect will support government and USAID projects in these local government units (LGUs) by providing more funding for modernization.
“We are building on previous projects. We are building on what the government has been doing,” he said.
Mr. Brillantes said in a speech that the project will benefit other localities near the cities by “promoting inter-LGU, inter-city cooperation in digitalization.”
He said the project will also encourage LGUs to improve health, education, and other services.
Mr. Brillantes said the program aligns with the goals of AmBisyon Natin, the 25-year National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) economic plan.
NEDA Assistant Secretary Sarah Lynne S. Daway-Ducanes said developing the selected cities will help decongest the country’s megacities, which are facing environmental issues and housing shortages.
Director-General Ernesto V. Perez of the Anti-Red Tape Authority said enhanced electronic government systems will help connect the National Government with the private sector in developing local economies. — Jomel R. Paguian