PH to get $1.9B in new loans from World Bank

By: Ben O. de Vera - Philippine Daily Inquirer | August 15,2020 - 07:37 AM

The World Bank will approve financing for another $1.9 billion in projects in the Philippines before yearend to help the economy recover from the COVID-19-induced recession, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Friday.

Specifically, the World Bank said in a recent letter to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III that the Washington-based multilateral lender remained supportive of the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

Ndiamé Diop, the World Bank’s country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, told Dominguez that the lender would “support and accompany the government’s programs and reforms” while it “charts out a solid recovery from the pandemic.”

Citing Diop’s letter to Dominguez, the DOF said that the World Bank’s pipeline of projects that it has redesigned to assist the Philippines’ economic recovery along with efforts to address the COVID-19 emergency included programs on improving social protection initiatives for poor and vulnerable households, and supporting the government’s capabilities to deliver basic education through distance or remote learning.

“The pipeline also covers policy loans and projects that aim to sharpen the country’s competitiveness; bridge gaps in the food supply chains, and provide jobs and livelihood opportunities to communities badly hit by the pandemic’s economic fallout,” the DOF quoted Diop as saying.

The World Bank also urged the Philippine government to accelerate and streamline the processes required to get the pipeline of projects moving in their various approval stages, given the emergency situation we are in, the DOF said.

The World Bank already disbursed $1.2 billion out of the recent loans it extended to the Philippines for COVID-19 response.

Meanwhile, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) also on Friday said that it disbursed to the Philippine government last Aug. 14 the 50-billion yen COVID-19 crisis response emergency support loan signed in July.

In a statement, Jica said it made the disbursement upon the Philippine government’s request made this week in order to “immediately help the Philippines deal with the pandemic.”

The Philippines was the first country that availed itself of this new highly concessional lending program being offered by the Japanese government, as well as the first borrower to disburse the fund.

“Jica stands with the Filipinos in this time of ‘bayanihan.’ We admire the tireless effort and the leadership shown by the Philippine government to tackle the unprecedented challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to explore new and innovative ways to deliver our development cooperation program in response to the Philippines’ immediate needs and consistent with our mandate to promote inclusive and sustainable growth and a better quality of life for all,” Jica Philippines chief representative Eigo Azukizawa said.

“The trusted partnership between the two countries allowed both governments to respond to the crisis in a ‘fast and sure’ manner. In addition to the COVID-19 crisis response emergency support loan, Jica continues to assist the Philippine government in its effort to boost the economy by providing jobs to many Filipinos through new and ongoing infrastructure projects in support of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program,” Japan’s foreign aid arm said.

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TAGS: $1.9B loan, COVID-19 induced recessions, DOF, infrastructure program, PH. World Bank

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