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PH qualifies for US aid for infra, poverty reduction in 2021

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 06:54 PM September 10, 2020

The Philippines is eligible to avail itself of financial aid from the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) next year for mostly infrastructure and poverty-reduction projects.

The MCC’s Sept. 8 candidate country report for fiscal year 2021 showed the Philippines was among a total of 63 countries on the shortlist for a possible compact with the US aid agency.

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The Philippines was included in the low-income category with 59 other countries, while three others–El Salvador, Sri Lanka and Tunisia–were in the category of lower middle income candidates.

The Philippines landed on the shortlist for having per capita income below the World Bank’s middle income country threshold for fiscal year 2021, which is equivalent to gross national income (GNI) per capita of $4,045.

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The Philippines was among 75 countries earlier identified by the World Bank to have the lowest per capita income and it was not ineligible to get economic assistance from the US under its Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

The latest data on the World Bank’s website showed that the Philippines had a GNI per capita of $3,850 in 2019.

In the same report, 15 countries were barred from access to MCC aid due to some legal prohibitions—Afghanistan, Algeria, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Comoros, Eritrea, Lesotho, Nicaragua, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe.

The Philippines in 2017 withdrew from the planned second MCC grant to build roads along the coast of Eastern Luzon.

In late 2016, the MCC deferred deciding on a new compact for the Philippines as the country had been “subject to a further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties” under then US President Barack Obama, who had been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs.

The Philippines’ first MCC compact for three projects, that repaired roads, reformed revenue administration and supported delivery of social services to the poor, ended in 2016.

The first grant extended in 2011 amounted to $434 million.
In November 2019.

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The MCC’s annual scorecard, which it uses to determine which developing countries to extend grants, showed the Philippines failed in eight out of 20 indicators–control of corruption, freedom of information and rule of law.

The Philippines’ scorecard for fiscal year 2020 showed that it passed in 12 indicators which are:

Under economic freedom:

  • Fiscal policy
  • Inflation
  • Regulatory quality
  • Trade policy
  • Gender in the economy
  • Land rights and access (under “economic freedom”

Under “ruling justly”:

  • Political rights
  • Civil liberties
  • Government effectiveness

Under “investing in people”:

  • Natural resource protection
  • Girls’ secondary education enrollment rate
  • Child health

The Philippines’ 2020 scorecard, however, showed red marks in eight indicators, which was higher than six in the 2019 scorecard.

These included:

  • Access to credit and business startup
  • Control of corruption
  • Rule of law
  • Freedom of information
  • Health expenditures
  • Primary education expenditures
  • Immunization rates

The Philippines reversed the gains posted in two indicators in 2019—control of corruption and freedom of information, which received passing marks in the preceding scorecard.

The scores in control of corruption and rule of law were based on the World Bank and Brooking Institution’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI), while the score in freedom of information was from independent democracy watchdog Freedom House.

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TAGS: Corruption, freedom of information, grants, indicators, Millennium challenge, Scorecard, US aid, World Bank
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