“Pledges have been made for PH government infra projects.”
By Prinz Magtulis
The Philippine Star
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Funding has been pledged, while methods to roll out much-needed infrastructure projects especially outside Metro Manila, were laid out at the closing yesterday of the Philippines Development Forum.
On one hand, development partners vowed support, both through money and expertise, to priority projects, on tax and spending reforms, as well as development in Mindanao.
On the other, the Duterte administration appealed again for emergency powers and coordination with all branches of government to avoid delays in project implementation.
“We have received numerous support from our development partners,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in his closing speech.
This was led by the World Bank, the country’s top lender, which hailed the government’s “very strong” 10-point socioeconomic agenda.
“It will be a very good opportunity to contribute to inclusive growth , job creation and poverty alleviation…We are very much committed here in the Philippines,” country director Mara Warwick said in a briefing.
The Asian Development Bank, for its part, said it had identified “six to seven areas” of support, including road development in Mindanao and improving capacity of local governments to spend funds.
Technical assistance for tax reform and spending plans are also on the table, said Shanaka Jayanath Peiris of the International Monetary Fund.
From bilateral partners, China, where President Duterte made a “landmark” visit, led pledges of support with a planned six-year development plan being crafted with the government.
“We have some working groups arriving next week and we also encourage more firms to import more fruits to China,” counselor Jin Yuan of the Chinese Embassy said.
For Hans Farnhammer of the European Union, electrification of rural areas and renewable energy could also be explored. “Our focal area has always been Mindanao,” he said.
Japan, the Philippines’ top lender by country, meanwhile would continue work on the North-South Railway as well as investment promotion, according to minister Iyori Makoto.
Funding would be coupled with an effort to fasttrack infrastructure development, but this would not be done without emergency powers to skirt procurement laws and open up more roads, from Congress, officials said.
“A resolution from Congress will really be helpful…We have already made assurances that there will be safeguards against anomalies,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
He added they are bringing the judiciary on board to ensure its rulings are not “stumbling block” to the projects.
“They don’t have to be obliged with what we will say, but I hope they will be able to understand,” Pernia said.