Japan still PH top ODA partner as China-funded projects hit snags
Japan is still the Philippines’ top source of official development assistance (ODA) financing, while China-funded projects face implementation issues made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic despite friendlier relations between Manila and Beijing.
The National Economic and Development Authority’s (Neda) 2019 ODA Portfolio Review Report released on Monday showed that as of last year, the 41 loans and grants extended by Japan to the Philippines worth $8.5 billion accounted for 39.4 percent of the total active ODA portfolio.
The Philippines also received $5.7 billion in ODA (26.4 percent of total) across 44 loans and grants from the Manila-based multilateral lender Asian Development Bank (ADB), while the Washington-based World Bank’s 25 loans and grants amounted to $4.3 billion (19.9 percent).
As of last year, South Korea had 13 active loans and grants totaling $630.6 million or 2.9 percent of the Philippines’ ODA portfolio.
In the case of China, it so far extended only three loans and two grants worth $590.4 million or 2.7 percent of total ODA.
The Philippines’ other major ODA partners included the United States ($577.7 million); Australia ($497.2 million); the United Nations system ($349.3 million); the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ($142.2 million), and the European Union ($138.2 million).
Of the 105 big-ticket infrastructure projects included in the pipeline of the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program, Japan will finance 12; China, four; South Korea, four; ADB, four; World Bank, two, and co-financing by ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), one.
Across 268 projects financed by grants, 13 being rolled out with Japan were on schedule while one was already completed.
As for China, its two grant-assisted projects were also on schedule, although one project was facing some issues.
In the case of the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridges Project being implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Neda noted that it “encroaches the buffer zone of San Agustin Church and San Fernando Bridge, which are both considered as heritage sites.”
As of March, Neda said that the DPWH had reported their consultant’s pending detailed engineering design revision was “progressing slowly in finalizing the plans given the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
These bridges financed by $56.5 million in Chinese grants were also undergoing cost restructuring while seeking an extended implementation period “due to changes in the design” as well as “delays caused by the imposition of COVID-19 community quarantine protocols, which delayed implementation of the project,” Neda said. INQ
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