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ADB lends record $2.5B to PH

Funding to address youth unemployment, improve implementation of antitrust law, speed up infra projects
By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:00 AM December 14, 2019

The Philippines and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday signed three loan agreements worth $623 million to reduce youth unemployment, better enforce the country’s antitrust law and help the government prepare shovel-ready infrastructure projects under its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program.

ADB vice president for operations Ahmed M. Saeed told reporters that the total loan financing extended by the Manila-based multilateral lender to the Philippines in 2019 amounted to $2.5 billion, the biggest ever in a single year.

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“This reflects the government’s clarity of vision and our strong commitment to supporting your efforts,” Saeed said.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, who signed the loan agreements on behalf of the Philippines, noted that during the past 10 years, the ADB extended to the country $7.2 billion in loans.

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In the next two years, the Philippines would avail itself of $7.8 billion in financing, bringing to $10.3 billion the loan portfolio from the ADB over the medium term.

“The proposed substantial increase in ADB’s loan assistance underscores the bank’s strong support in translating the Duterte administration’s development objectives into concrete investments, particularly related to the country’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, human capital development, disaster preparedness, tourism, health care and agriculture. In short, the whole range of our development concerns,” Dominguez said.

The three loan agreements approved by the ADB board this month included the $400-million Facilitating Youth School-to-Work Transition Program Subprogram 2; $23.3-million Capacity Building to Foster Competition Project, and $200 million in additional financing for the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility (IPIF).

The ADB said the fresh loan for the ongoing IPIF “will support the preparation of several transformative projects, including the detailed engineering design of the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge Project and the Metro Rail Transit Line 4 connecting Ortigas in Metro Manila to Taytay in eastern Rizal province.”

“It will also provide project implementation and preparation support for staff at the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Works and Highways so they can effectively and efficiently manage complex infrastructure projects,” the ADB added.

“Usually, major infrastructure projects take at least five years to prepare. But the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program has significantly shortened this preparation period and the IPIF support is helping with this. From a historical perspective, the government’s rollout of its ‘Build, Build, Build’ program has been incredibly successful, with public spending on infrastructure at an all-time high,” said Kelly Bird, ADB country director for the Philippines.

Dominguez said the initial $100-million loan under the first IPIF green-lighted by the ADB in 2017 was used by the Duterte administration to widen its infrastructure pipeline.

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“When the administration came in, we had a slim pipeline of [infrastructure] projects. To develop our pipeline, we needed to finance project studies. The second round of financing will be used for feasibility studies. There is still a long list of feasibility studies we have to make. This will develop a very good pipeline for future administrations,” Dominguez said.

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TAGS: ADB, Asian development bank
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