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ADB to extend up to $9.4-B loans to PHL in next 3 years

THE ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday said it is looking to extend up to $9.4 billion in loans to the Philippines between 2021 and 2023 to support the economic recovery through infrastructure, health, and employment programs.

In a statement, ADB said more than half (52%) of the loans will support transportation projects including railways, roads and bridges, and 12% of the loans will finance the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.

“We have designed our new Country Operations Business Plan to help the Philippines overcome the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic. We are focusing on infrastructure projects that have large employment multipliers and support long-term economic growth through improved connectivity,” ADB Vice-President Ahmed M. Saeed said in a statement.

“Our programs for next year and the years after will be for helping investments for Filipinos. So we had quite a lot of social assistance programs this year, but we’re also continuing that, along with schools development for 221 to 2023,” ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said in an online briefing on Wednesday.

For 2021, the ADB has an indicative lending program worth $3.568 billion. About half (50.9%) or $1.75 billion is programmed for the first phase of the South Commuter Railway Project. The rest are expected to fund infrastructure projects such as the Metro Manila Bridges Project ($180 million), and the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project ($238 million).

The loans will also finance the sustainable tourism development of Coron and El Nido in Palawan ($100 million); a local governance reform program ($400 million); a youth-to-school transition project ($400 million); and a health sector loan to implement the UHC coverage program ($500 million).

The ADB also provided a breakdown of standby loan programs worth $800 million which is meant for infrastructure projects, education, and social enterprises.

By 2022, the largest chunk of the $2.92-billion lending program for the year will be for the second phase of the Malolos-Clark Railway ($1 billion). A $420-million loan is also programmed for business and employment recovery.

Projects for flood risk management, inclusive agriculture development, capital market generated infrastructure financing will each get $400 million in programmed loans. Meanwhile, the Mindanao irrigation development, technical and vocational education training programs, and the Mindanao agri-enterprise development projects will get a $100-million loan each.

A $1.5-billion standby loan is set for infrastructure projects in 2022 such as the Bataan-Cavite Bridge Project.

Another $2.95 billion worth of loans will be programmed for 2023. The biggest share will be for the second phase of the South Commuter Railway Project ($1.25 billion). The rest of the loan program will go to Metro Rail Transit Line 4 (Ortigas to Rizal) ($500 million), inclusive finance development ($300 million), social assistance ($500 million, and the implementation of the Universal Health Care program ($400 million).

The Philippines’ total borrowings from the ADB reached $4.2 billion in 2020, among the largest lending programs disbursed by the multilateral lender for the year, Mr. Bird said.

The ADB has also launched a $9-billion program called the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility to help developing members in procurement.

“We’re in discussions with the government on tapping into the facility in financing vaccine procurement for 2021, that’s an ongoing discussion. But we are committed to supporting vaccine procurement,” Mr. Bird said. — L.W.T.Noble

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