Infra projects get funding boost

By: Ben O. de Vera

The Asian Development Bank will extend at least $7.1 billion in loans to the Philippines from 2019 to 2021, mainly to support the Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure program.

In a statement, the Manila-based multilateral lender said it signed last week a memorandum of understanding with state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority for the indicative sovereign lending program covering the next three years.

Two-thirds of the proposed lending program or $4.5 billion will be allocated for projects that connect regions and communities and manage urbanization, such as railways, bridges, roads, and flood management under the “Build, Build, Build” program, the ADB said.

The balance is for policy support and social assistance in the areas of inclusive finance, capital market development, local government development, and youth employment, it added.
In general, “the ADB’s Country Operations Business Plan 2019-2021 will focus on the strategic priorities of accelerating infrastructure and long-term investments, promoting local economic development, and investing in people to support the government’s objective of lowering poverty to 14 percent of population by 2022, from the current 21.6 percent,” it said.

 

The ADB said it was committed to working closely with the Philippine government to ensure the delivery of these projects, ADB country director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said.

“I am very happy about this program. The ADB has been very cooperative and helpful in our objectives to sustain our economic growth and achieve inclusive development. This will help bring us closer to our longer-term vision of a prosperous, middle-income country where no one is poor by 2040,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda chief Ernesto M. Pernia was quoted by the ADB as saying.

“The ADB has been a very responsive partner. When we asked them to consider cofinancing some of the large infrastructure projects under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, the ADB immediately stepped up to the challenge,” Finance Assistant Secretary Maria Edita Z. Tan said.

The ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency are eyeing to cofinance two massive railway projects connecting Metro Manila to Pampanga up north and Laguna down south.

The P211.4-billion Philippine National Railways North 2 project as well as the P124.1-billion PNR South Commuter or the North-South Railway Project-South Line were both being prepared for a cofinancing arrangement between the ADB and Jica, the ADB’s Philippine office said last month.

Based on the ADB timetable, its counterpart financing for PNR North 2 will be up for approval next year, while that for the south line was seen approved in 2020.

For Jica’s part, senior representative Tetsuya Yamada earlier said the aid agency was “considering cofinancing PNR North 2 and South Commuter with the ADB.”

Earlier documents showed the loan agreement for the PNR North 2 was expected to be signed by the fourth quarter.

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