‘Build, Build, Build’ to get record-high $3B in loans from ADB
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is pulling out of its pockets at least $3.3 billion in loans to sustain support for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, a record high.
New ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa met with Duterte for the first time on Monday (Feb. 24) at the Department of Finance (DOF) building.
At the meeting, the ADB chief thanked Duterte for contributing to the Asian Development Fund, a grant for poverty-reduction initiatives of ADB’s lower-income member-countries in the Asia Pacific region.
In a statement on Tuesday (Feb. 25), the ADB said Asakawa congratulated the Philippine government for “remarkable success in bringing down the national poverty rate to 16.6 percent in 2018 from 23.3 percent in 2015.”
The achievement, the statement quoted Asakawa as saying, was “thanks to the country’s high economic growth, job creation and expanded social assistance programs.”
By 2022, the Duterte administration wanted to further slash poverty rate to as low as 11 percent.
“The ADB’s partnership with our host country, the Philippines, has never been stronger,” said the ADB statement.
“The ADB is committed to supporting the government’s effort to reduce poverty and create high quality jobs for Filipinos by building a competitive economy and caring society,” it added.
For 2020, the ADB had programmed the approval of at least $3.3 billion in loans. Half of this would be to finance Build, Build, Build projects like the Angat Water Transmission Aqueduct 7, Edsa Greenways Pedestrian Walkways and South Commuter Railway.
The ADB also planned to support other Philippine initiatives on capital market development, social protection and sustainable tourism.
In 2019, the ADB’s loans to the Philippines reached a record $2.5 billion.
To date, the ADB’s biggest project financing across Asia-Pacific was the $2.75-billion Malolos-Clark Railway, whose construction was scheduled to start in mid-2020.
Asakawa also last Monday met with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, who also serves as ADB governor for the Philippines.
Asakawa, at his meeting with Dominguez, reiterated full ADB support for Philippine growth and projects including Build, Build, Build and projects in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
According to the ADB press release, Dominguez and Asakawa also discussed ways to improve work relations between ADB and the World Bank.
Dominguez had wanted the ADB and the Washington-based World Bank to work in harmony with each other to achieve more without spending more.
Dominguez said he and the ADB chief also discussed the hosting of this year’s ADB annual meeting in South Korea, which is now grappling with an outbreak of COVID-19.
He said he and Asakawa “concluded that the ADB will continue to monitor developments before making any announcement” about the meeting.
Edited by TSB
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