By Chino Leyco
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Thursday that it has approved a fresh lending facility for the Philippines, focused on three priority areas of the Duterte administration.
In a statement, the Manila-based multilateral institution said the six-year country partnership strategy (CPS) is worth $7.8 billion. It prioritizes infrastructure and long-term investments, promoting local economic development in Mindanao and Visayas, and investing in people.
Stephen Groff, ADB vice-president, said the partnership strategy aims to improve the standard of living of Filipinos, particularly the poorest half of the population, and allow them to feel the benefits of a growing economy through better education, jobs, and income opportunities.
“Our operations are leveraging resources to support the government’s transformative social and economic agenda,” Groff said
Nearly $2 billion annually
Under the new strategy, ADB expects to lend an estimated $7.8 billion, or nearly $2 billion annually, from 2018 to 2021, the highest for any four-year period. The yearly average also doubles the current estimated yearly lending pipeline.
ADB will be actively pursuing co-financing arrangements with development partners to better assist the government attain its goal of lowering poverty to 14 percent of the population by 2022.
To sustain the country’s high growth rate, the bank noted that investments in climate-resilient infrastructure to significantly improve links between regions, communities, and people need to be increased.
Support ‘Build’ program
ADB said that it will rebalance its financing assistance to support the Philippine government’s massive “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure development program to address connectivity issues.
Reflecting the rebalanced lending pipeline, transport will make up 47 percent of ADB’s Philippine operations from 2018 to 2021, up from 2.2 percent in the last seven years.
Projects include big-ticket items such as the Malolos-Clark Railway, North-South Commuter Rail, Metro Manila Bridges, Bataan-Cavite Long-Span Bridge, and EDSA Greenways projects.
ADB will also support capital market development, private sector participation, and innovations such as green finance solutions to create more options for long-term infrastructure finance.
Local economic dev’t
ADB will put greater focus on local economic development, especially in Visayas and Mindanao, to address wide income disparities across regions and mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
It will assist local governments in policy reforms, capacity development, building livable cities, and disaster risk management and in tapping private capital for their infrastructure needs.
Investing in the poor
Investing in the poor is necessary to address income inequalities. ADB will support policies and programs that seek to strengthen people’s capacities to gain better jobs and participate fully in society.
These include increasing access to quality secondary education, jobs market for the youth and unemployed, financial services, social protection, and finding innovative ways to deliver social services.
ADB’s new partnership strategy incorporates gender equality, private sector development, governance, and environmental sustainability across the three priority areas mentioned earlier.
The strategy is aligned with the government’s long-term development plan AmBisyon Natin (Our Ambition) 2040, the medium-term Philippine Development Plan. It is the first partnership strategy to be developed in line with ADB’s Strategy 2030 approved in July.