US affirms help in Phl climate change fight

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and US Ambassador MaryKay Loss Carlson (Photo courtesy of the Department of Finance)

August 8, 2022

As the Philippines belongs to countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, the United States government said it is willing to scale up its financial assistance to the country to help the Philippines’ climate change mitigation efforts, along with similar programs in health security and digitalization.

This was affirmed by US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Loss Carlson when she met Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Monday. At the meeting, Carlson expressed the US’ willingness to increase climate financing support to the Philippines, which international reports and studies have named as one of the countries most threatened by climate change.

During his first State of the Nation Address, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. identified climate change as among the critical issues his administration will address. The Philippine government had previously set an ambitious commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2030, despite the country contributing only 0.3 percent of total global emissions.

in terms of health security, Carlson and Diokno discussed efforts to increase the Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccination rate, touching on the need for greater public awareness of a possible next pandemic or other global issues that could affect economic and human development.

Diokno also acknowledged the US’ assistance in improving the Philippines’ tax system. The USAID previously supported the Department of Finance in crafting its comprehensive tax reform program through technical assistance, while the US Trade and Development Agency provided a grant worth $809,450 to the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Information Communication Technology Modernization Strategy and Data Center.

“The long lines during the tax payment period [are] gone,” said Diokno. “I think almost 99 percent are now paid electronically. That’s good.”

As of December 2021, the US was the Philippines’ largest source of grants, reaching $628.20 million and accounting for 33.23 percent of total grant assistance received by the country from all its bilateral and multilateral development partners. Overall, the US ranked as the country’s seventh biggest provider of official development assistance.

“I am very pleased to hear of Ambassador MaryKay Carlson’s willingness to increase our cooperation in health security, climate finance and the digitalization of our tax system,” said Diokno in a tweet following his meeting with the US ambassador.

Carlson, on the other hand, lauded the appointment of Diokno and the other economic team members and said it sends a positive signal to US companies who want stability, predictability and transparency in doing business in the Philippines.

 


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