Gov’t undecided on AIIB membership
THE PHILIPPINES would likely exhaust the yearend deadline to sign the articles of agreement to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) even as it is the only remaining prospective member yet to do so.
“It’s like a wedding—it’s a very important decision so we have to be really sure,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima told reporters last week. “On Dec. 31, we will know.”
Purisima pointed out that ultimately, the final decision on whether or not to join the China-led AIIB would be up to President Aquino. “I always tell the President the pros and cons … [but] I don’t want to preempt my boss. It’s up to his perception,” the finance chief said.
Early this month, South Africa and Kuwait signed the AIIB’s articles of agreement, making them the 55th and 56th signatories, respectively, out of the 57 prospective members.
A ranking government official had said that the Philippines would likely fast-track its membership in the AIIB if more countries, especially the United States and Japan, would also take part in its establishment.
“The more members it has, the better, as there are more eyes to watch over the running of the bank,” the official, who is privy to ongoing talks for the Philippines to be a founding member of the AIIB, said last September.
In June, the Philippines deferred signing the articles of agreement even as Purisima maintained that the country remained a prospective founding member.
“As the deadline to sign is in December 2015, the Philippines is taking the time given to prudently consider its membership,” Purisima had said.
Purisima earlier said the Philippines had concerns about the bank’s governance. “We do hope that AIIB will function based on purely financial basis and not political,” he said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference in the US last June. Ben O. de Vera
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