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World Bank extending 2 loans worth $770M to PH

/ 04:03 AM September 16, 2020

The World Bank will extend two more loans worth a combined $770.5 million to the Philippines during the next two years to support recovery in the tourism sector and enhance the economy’s competitiveness postpandemic.

World Bank documents showed that its board was expected to approve by March 2021 investment project finan­cing for the Department of Tourism’s $170.5-million sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism project

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This project is aimed at improving access to infrastructure services, promoting domestic tourism development as well as strengthening capacity for crisis- and disaster-preparedness in three tourist destinations in the country—Bohol, Siquijor and Siargao islands, the Washington-based multilateral lender said.

“Key project interventions would address the constraints being faced in the destinations, namely, lack of basic infrastructure, capacity of local businesses to shift to the new normal, integrated disaster and crisis management and lack of comprehensive tourism policies,” the World Bank added.

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The World Bank is bullish that these three island-destinations in the Philippines will help local tourism bounce back from the pandemic-induced slump in global travel.

“While international tourism will take time to rebound, it is expected that the domestic market will boost the immediate and fast recovery of the tourism sector compared to the international market once the quarantine is lifted. Further, future market demand will be determined by improved accessibility, supply of quality accommodation and tourism products and services including health-care facilities,” the World Bank said.

Another World Bank loan in the pipeline amounting to a bigger $600 million is scheduled for approval by the lender’s board this December, which “will support the government of the Philippines’ recovery effort from the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while advancing structural reforms on competitiveness and resilience.”

The Department of Finance will implement the second Philippines promoting competitiveness and enhancing resilience development policy loan, which is aimed at keeping the reform agenda on track en route to achieving the country’s medium-term growth and poverty-reduction goals despite the damage wrought by the pandemic.

“While the government’s immediate priority is to flatten the infection curve, promoting competitiveness while enhancing resilience to shocks will help to get the country back on its inclusive growth path,” the World Bank said.

The upcoming World Bank loan will specifically promote competitiveness through reforms in agriculture and trade policy, ease of doing business as well as competition and investment in the telecom sector. —BEN O. DE VERA INQ

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