Australian officials expressed optimism on the economic growth potential of Northern Mindanao during a visit here on November 23.

“I’m of the belief that Northern Mindanao will become the growth center of Mindanao in the future,” predicted Sam Chittick, Governance Adviser to the Australian Aid Agency (AusAID).

Chittick and Australian diplomat Jason Mundy were here to personally evaluate the province’s socio-economic conditions and to consult with provincial and municipal leaders regarding their priority projects and programs.

“We come here because Lanao del Norte is an important part of the Philippines and we have associations with Governor Khalid Dimaporo,” Mundy said.

The Australian officials were impressed with the provincial leaders’ local peace initiatives aimed at uniting the Muslim and Christian residents in both the coastal and interior municipalities.

“Lanao del Norte is a bridging community between Muslims and Christians,” Chittick said.

The Australian government has several partnership programs in the Visayas and in some cities of Mindanao. Its biggest project assistance focuses in the areas of education and infrastructure.

Former Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo provided the foreign representatives firsthand information on the latest peace and order situation in the region and the impact of poverty-intervention programs implemented by national government.

“Support from foreign governments and agencies are very important to the development of Lanao del Norte,” Dimaporo said.

The facts gathered by the Australian representatives will help determine the kind of assistance their government can extend to Lanao del Norte to spur economic growth in Northern Mindanao.

article from Sun Star CDO

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