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ADB sets P390-B infra fund



The Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” project got a major shot in the arm after multilateral lender Asian Development Bank (ADB) unveiled yesterday a six-year country partnership strategy (CPS) that will earmark up to $2 billion (P100 billion) a year in funding for the country.

The ADB said its board approved the package that will support the government’s goal of attaining sustained high and inclusive economic growth.

Under the new strategy, ADB’s programs and projects in the Philippines will focus on accelerating infrastructure and long-term investments, promoting local economic development in Mindanao and Visayas and investing in people.

Under the new strategy, ADB expects to lend an estimated $7.8 billion (P390 billion) from 2018 to 2021, the highest for any four-year period. The annual 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.

Finances rebalanced

ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said the lending agency is “rebalancing” its finances toward infrastructure development.

“[In] the rebalanced 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,” Bird said.

According to Bird, the shift can be accounted by the government’s clear goal to improve the economy in terms of infrastructure support as well as the administration’s massive investments in the sector.

“This CPS really reflects a historic shift in our engagement with the Philippines and I think that shift has been provided by this government’s socioeconomic agenda,” Bird said.

Flagship projects to benefit

ADB principal country specialist Joven Balbosa said flagship projects that will benefit from the financing package are the Malolos-Clark Railway Project, EDSA Greenways Project, Metro Manila Bridges Project, MRT Line 4-Ortigas to Rizal, Laguna Lakeshore Road Transport Project, North-South Commuter Rail-South Line, Tutuban to Los Baños and the Bataan-Cavite Bridge Project.

ADB will also place greater focus on local economic development, especially in the Visayas and Mindanao regions where wide income disparities needed to be addressed.

He added regions lagging in development are vulnerable to natural hazards and some are subject to intermittent armed conflict.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino said the massive infrastructure projects being built will ultimately improve the lives of every Filipino.

Game changer

“The infrastructure program, Build, Build, Build, is multi-dimensional (and) that (it is) really (a) game changer on the quality of life for Filipino people,” Lambino said.

He further explained that this development was aligned with the government’s plan, AmBisyon Natin 2040 where no Filipino will be left behind.

With this action, ADB proves its commitment to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Asia and the Pacific while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.

To sustain the country’s high growth rate, investments in climate-resilient infrastructure to significantly improve links between regions, communities and people need to be increased, he added.