PH, Japan agency sign $2-B railway loan
The Philippine government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) on Friday signed a $2-billion loan agreement for the initial phase of the North-South Commuter Railway project.
The Jica loan is for the segment that will run from Manila’s Tutuban district to Malolos in Bulacan. It is “the largest assistance ever extended to any country for a single project” by the Japanese lender, according to the Department of Finance (DOF).
Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima signed the loan agreement on behalf of the Philippine government, while Jica was represented by Noriaki Niwa, its chief representative in the Philippines.
The DOF said the project would provide a more environmentally sustainable mode of transport through the construction of a 37-kilometer new elevated commuter railway from Malolos in Bulacan to Tutuban, procurement of rolling stock and installation of electro-mechanical systems.
“In 2010, the Asian Development Bank estimated that the Philippines has $127 billion in infrastructure needs until 2020, equivalent to around 6.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) a year. Obviously in this respect we’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Purisima said.
“Japan is one of our strongest development partners in the world, with total official development assistance (ODA) in loans and grants given to the Philippines second only to the World Bank,” the finance chief said.
For the part of Jica, Niwa noted in a speech that traffic congestion was a clear and immediate challenge that could affect the country’s economic competitiveness.
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