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Economic team to review China funding for projects

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:09 AM August 20, 2018

The country’s economic managers and infrastructure team will be in Beijing on Aug. 22-24 to firm up with their Chinese counterparts the “Build, Build, Build” projects and financing schemes in which the mainland earlier pledged support.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer last Friday that their trip to China would be “essentially a review of the first basket of projects and discussion of the second basket” of projects needing loans and grants from China.

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Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that the high-level delegation would discuss specific projects with new Chinese officials.

“We understand there has been a reorganization on the part of China. This meeting is part of the regular government-to-government consultation, which alternates in Manila and Beijing,” Diokno said.

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Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said they would discuss ways to address the issues and challenges in the preparation and implementation of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects that China has committed to support through official development assistance (ODA) loans and grants.

The meetings will include updates on the progress of the first basket of projects for Chinese loan financing such as the Chico River pump irrigation project, New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam, the Philippine National Railways’ South Long-Haul Project, and the Davao-Samal bridge along with the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges that are being funded with grants from China, Dominguez said.

Also up for discussion during the meeting are projects under the second basket, including the Ambal-Simuay River and Rio Grande de Mindanao River flood control projects, Pasig-Marikina River and Manggahan Floodway bridges, Subic-Clark Railway, Safe Philippines Project Phase 1, and the rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric power plants,” Dominguez added.

Dominguez said he was also optimistic that they could sign the exchange of letters for the feasibility study of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridges Project, which would also be funded by China.

Dominguez, Diokno and Pernia will be joined by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano as well as Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and chief executive Vivencio Dizon.

National Economic and Development Authority documents earlier showed that 18 projects and programs worth a total of P731.7 billion will be rolled out through loans and grants from China.

Of the ODA pipeline, 16 projects with a combined project cost of P731.2 billion will be funded by Chinese loans, while two projects worth at least P500 million will be financed by grants.

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A loan from China was already extended to the National Irrigation Authority’s P4.4-billion Chico River pump irrigation project.

So far, the Duterte administration has signed only one Chinese loan agreement worth P3.14 billion for the irrigation facility, the first flagship infrastructure project to be financed by the mainland under the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program.

The $62.09-million US-dollar denominated loan will cover 85 percent of the total contract amount of P3.7 billion and carried an interest of 2 percent a year, maturing in 20 years inclusive of a seven-year grace period.

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TAGS: Business, Ernesto M. Pernia
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