At least four (4) infrastructure projects, out of the $24-billion pledge of China to the Philippines, may begin this year, ambassador-designate of the Philippines to China Santiago Santa Romana said.
Santa Romana told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippines-China Investment Forum on Friday at the Makati Shangri-La, the Philippines-China Joint Commission on Economic & Trade Cooperation which was earlier set February 24 would proceed when Zhong Shan, newly-appointed minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce, comes to Manila on March 7.
At the forum last Friday, Zhao Jianhua, ambassador of the Republic of China to the Philippines, said an important part of the visit of the minister of commerce is the signing of guidelines on the proper procedures to be followed in implementing such projects to ensure they are rule based and transparent and “will stand the test of time and the test of laws.”
Zhao reminded the businessmen in the audience that while they are benefitting from the stronger economic relations, they should bear in mind the fundamental interest of the people of both countries.
He said he promised President Duterte projects to be implemented by China will and should be corruption free.
“We will have to abide by guidelines and make (these projects) corruption free and (will leave) no room for mistakes,” said Zhao.
During the commerce minister’s visit, agreements covering business-to-business and loan-financed projects would hopefully be signed.
But Santa Romana said there is a list of priority projects to be determined by the Investment Coordinating Council of the Philippines and its counterpart in China.
He added the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Finance are narrowing down the list, which include among others the south rail, Mindanao rail and Chico dam.
“They want to lay down the groundwork before the end of the year,” Santa Romana said.
These agreements are part of the commitments secured by the Philippines from China during President Duterte’s visit to Beijing in October.
Of the $15 billion are business-to-business projects, while $9 billion are covered by loans. Of the $9 billion, $6 billion will come from the China Eximbank and the rest from the Bank of China.
Malaya Business Insight