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PH eyeing US grant to develop infra in coastal areas facing Philippine Rise

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PH eyeing US grant to develop infra in coastal areas facing Philippine Rise

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:03 PM September 27, 2017
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III
(File photo by JOAN BONDOC / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The Philippine government is looking at pitching projects that will improve infrastructure along the eastern coast of Luzon island for funding under the possible second grant compact from the United States, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.

Dominguez told reporters recently that the Department of Finance (DOF) was already preparing the pipeline of projects for a potential compact with the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC).

“We hired a consultant to put already a package of projects because we were saying that the MCC already started a project in the east coast of the Philippines—they have that 200-kilometer road (in Samar island), so I told them, why don’t we do study the possibility of putting good developments in the east coast of Luzon?” Dominguez said, noting of a lack of infrastructure in the coastal area facing the Pacific Ocean.

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The MCC had noted in a recent report that the first compact that funded the Secondary National Roads Development Project in Samar rehabilitated 222 kilometers of a national road using climate-resilient standards as well as significant safety enhancements, hence “reduced transportation costs, expanded commerce, and helped to raise the incomes of the island’s people.”

Also, Dominguez said infrastructure development along Luzon’s east coast would benefit the adjacent “Philippine Rise” (Benham Rise), said to be rich in natural resources.

“We already have a new territory which is the Philippine Rise so we need ports where we can launch our research vessels, which we don’t have now. So might as well start developing that in places like Quezon (province),” Dominguez said.

In an Aug. 16 report, the MCC said the Philippines was among the candidate-countries for compact eligibility for fiscal year 2018.

Aside from the Philippines, the MCC had identified 66 countries belonging to the low-income category, on top of nine lower middle-income countries.

The MCC had said eligible countries were determined based on the following: the country’s demonstrated commitment to just and democratic governance, economic freedom and investments in its people; the opportunity to reduce poverty and generate economic growth in the country; as well as the availability of funds.

To recall, the Washington-based MCC in December last year deferred to make a decision with regards a new compact for the Philippines to be spent on programs and projects fostering economic growth as well as slashing poverty.

That time, the MCC said the Philippines was “subject to a further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties.”

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The deferment was made when Mr. Barack Obama was still US President, who was critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

An MCC scorecard released in November last year nonetheless showed that the Philippines garnered passing scores in 13 out of the 20 indicators, including control of corruption, rule of law and civil liberties—an improvement from the performance in 2015 wherein the country passed in 12 indicators. /jpv

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TAGS: DoF, Luzon projects, Millennium challenge, US grant
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