ADB allots $1.8B for PH development
3-year loan program to boost anti-poverty driveBy Michelle V. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer The Asian Development Bank has reiterated its commitment to help the Philippines achieve its development goals, saying it will earmark between $1.7 billion and $1.8 billion for its loan program for the country for the succeeding three years.
Neeraj Jain, country director of ADB for the Philippines, on Wednesday said a significant portion of the money to be disbursed to the Philippines from 2013 to 2015 will be used to provide funding support for conditional cash transfers (CCT), education, community development projects, and other initiatives for poverty reduction.
“We are a government partner, and we are supporting development initiatives of the country,” Jain told reporters on Wednesday.
Jain said ADB fully supports the Philippine government’s CCT program, under which the government provides food subsidies to selected poor households. Recipient households are required to send children to public schools. The objective of the program is to improve education among the poor and eventually trim poverty incidence.
The ADB official said the CCT program of the Philippines has become a model for poverty reduction activities of other countries.
He said this program is believed to help address the serious poverty problem in the Philippines.
Although the Philippines is growing at a respectable pace, Jain said economic growth so far has failed to redound to poverty reduction. This means benefits of the growing economy are being enjoyed mostly by the middle class and the rich.
Latest official data on poverty showed that poor Filipinos accounted for 26.5 percent of the population in 2009, up from 24.9 percent in 2003.
The ADB believes maintenance of the CCT program will help the country achieve its poverty reduction goals.
Jain also said the government must invest much more in public infrastructure, and invite more private enterprises to invest in the same.
ADB is likewise supporting infrastructure development initiatives of the Philippines, he said.
“The Philippines is significantly behind the curve as far as infrastructure investments are concerned,” Jain said. He noted that infrastructure spending in the Philippines is just below 3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Jain said infrastructure spending must increase to 7 to 8 percent of GDP so that the Philippines can better compete with its neighbors in attracting foreign direct investments.
ADB is one of the Philippines’ biggest sources of development loans.
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