PH among ADB, WB top borrowers in 2021
MANILA, Philippines—The Asian Development Bank (ADB) extended to the Philippines — its host-country — a total of $2.79 billion in financial assistance last year, the fifth biggest among its member-countries.
The Manila-based ADB’s 2021 annual report released on Monday (April 25) showed that low-interest loans approved for the Philippines last year amounted to $2.23 billion, the second largest after India’s $4.6-billion worth.
The Philippines also received $6.2 million in technical assistance, plus $560.1 million in co-financing.
Across concessional loans, grants, and other financial assistance being provided by the ADB, the Philippines’ total was behind India’s $6.77 billion, Pakistan’s $5.26 billion, Bangladesh’s $4.74 billion, and Vietnam’s $2.92 billion.
Last year’s ADB loans to the Philippines included:
• $400-million facilitating youth school-to-work transition program (subprogram 3)
• $400-million local governance reform program (subprogram 2)
• $175.1-million Metro Manila bridges project
• $400-million second health system enhancement to address and limit (Heal) COVID-19 under the Asia-Pacific vaccine access facility (APVAX)
• $250-million Heal COVID-19 additional financing
• $600-million build universal health care (UHC) program (subprogram 1).
Last year’s loan for the UHC program “will help provide continued access to crucial health services for around 109 million Filipinos, including at least 36.9 million homeless people, senior citizens, and other vulnerable groups” by “strengthening and expanding government services, including health insurance, telemedicine, hospital care, and health diagnostics,” ADB said.
“In the Philippines, traffic demand of 12.8 million trips per day often overwhelms the capacity of Metro Manila’s road network, causing long travel delays for commuters and logistical difficulties for businesses,” ADB added.
“In response, and as part of wider government efforts to address traffic congestion in the city, the ADB provided a $175.1-million loan to support the construction of three road bridges crossing the Marikina River,” it added.
“The bank also committed $400 million in policy-based lending for the Philippines for improving local government capacity to provide high-quality public services,” ADB continued.
“The program will help strengthen the service delivery frameworks of local governments, modernize their public financial management, and improve their financing and investment frameworks. These measures will help ensure local governments have the capacity and adequate resources to respond quickly to the basic needs of local communities at critical times,” it said.
The combined $650 million across two loans for vaccines under the APVAX allowed the Philippines to buy and distribute more than 85 million doses of COVID-19 jabs, the ADB noted.
In a separate statement on Monday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that “the trilateral cooperation among the world’s major multilateral development banks in jointly providing funding support for the Philippine government’s COVID-19 national inoculation program gave this effort the ‘seal of good housekeeping,’ which assured Filipinos the procurement of the vaccine doses were legal and aboveboard.”
Last year, the Philippines borrowed a total of $2 billion from the ADB, the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as well as the Washington-based World Bank to buy vaccines, boosters, and pediatric shots. The lenders directly paid vaccine manufacturers and suppliers and no money passed through the government.
“This trilateral cooperation could be replicated to mobilize financing for other development projects, particularly the climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives by emerging economies like the Philippines,” Dominguez told World Bank officials on the sidelines of WB’s spring meetings last week.
“This would be a more feasible and accessible option rather than subjecting countries to the tedious processes imposed by various organizations offering climate financing,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez noted that under the Duterte administration, the Philippines and the World Bank Group signed 22 loan agreements totaling $7.53 billion, of which 15 loans worth $6.15 billion were injected into the COVID-19 war chest.
Still in the World Bank’s near-term lending pipeline for the Philippines were 12 upcoming loans worth a total of $2.01 billion.
The Philippines was the World Bank’s top borrower in fiscal year 2021, with a total of $3.07 billion in loans across eight operations during the period July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
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