“The focus on project investments for infrastructure over the next years is welcome. This makes us more optimistic that the Build, Build, Build program will be rolled out without delay.”
The Asian Development Bank is extending some P50.32 billion in fresh loans to the Philippines this year to support the Duterte administration’s ambitious ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) undersecretary for investment programming Rolando G. Tungpalan said the amount is higher than original P48.98 billion originally earmarked for Manila under the lender’s technical assistance to the Philippines covered in its 2018-2020 Country Operations Business Plan. The loan is the biggest amount extended by the ADB to support the government’s efforts to revitalize the economy through massive infrastructure projects to encourage inclusive growth.
For 2019 and 2020, the bank has programmed to lend Manila P75.54 billion each.
“The focus on project investments for infrastructure over the next years is welcome. This makes us more optimistic that the Build, Build, Build program will be rolled out without delay,” Tungpalan said during the wrap-up meeting of the Country Programming Mission late in May on ADB loans and grants, for the Philippines from 2019 to 2021.
Tungpalan added that investment loans provide greater clarity in terms of results, costs and benefits, and time frame of projects.
Joining him in the meeting with ADB Philippine Country Office officials were assistant secretary Ma. Edita Z. Tan of the Department of Finance (DoF) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Monetary Board member Felipe Medalla.
In its presentation during the meeting held at the NEDA headquarters, ADB said there are two policy-based loans (PBLs) worth $600 million, one results-based loan worth $300 million, and two other projects worth $45 million for this year.
ADB has been providing the Philippines policy-based lending in the form of budget support for structural reforms and development expenditure programs.
In ADB’s proposed lending pipeline of $2.47 billion for 2019, there are two PBLs worth $600 million and eight projects worth $1.87 billion.
For 2020, the total lending pipeline of $2.40 billion has two PBLs worth $600 million and six projects worth $1.80 billion.
On the other hand, the total lending pipeline of $2.10 billion in 2021 has two PBLs worth $600 million and seven projects worth $1.50 billion.
ADB-Philippines principal country specialist Joven Z. Balbosa said the main features of ADB’s proposed operational support are responsive to needed infrastructure investments in the government’s Build Build Build program.
“As we progress from 2019 to 2021, we see that the projects are increasing in terms of numbers and amount,” Balbosa explained.
“Our robust pipeline of projects and programs for the next three years from 2019 to 2021 reflects our seriousness to Philippine development,” Kelly Bird, country director of ADB in the Philippines, said.
Tungpalan said program loans would be guided by the Philippine government’s overall fiscal programming. For project loans, the NEDA Board’s Investment Coordination Committee vets on the viability of proposed projects while the DoF assesses how these will be financed.
A memorandum of understanding on ADB’s pipeline of projects is expected to be signed in June by ADB and the Philippine government through NEDA and DoF.