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PH eyes grant to develop infra in coastal areas

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:30 AM September 28, 2017

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 that the Department of Finance was already preparing the pipeline of projects for a potential compact with the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corp.

“We hired a consultant to put 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 study the possibility of putting good developments in the east coast of Luzon?” Dominguez said, noting the 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,” 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.

Including 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 that 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 Duterte’s bloody 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 12 indicators.

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TAGS: coastal areas, Infrastructure, Millennium Challenge Corp., Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III
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