ADB to lend $9.4B to PH for next 3 years

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday the funds it would lend to the Philippines were expected to reach $9.4 billion under its three-year business plan for the country, with at least two-thirds of these going to infrastructure, health and employment recovery.

In a statement, the Manila-based multilateral lender said its Philippines’ Country Operations Business Plan 2021–2023 would support state programs and policies designed to repair damage to the business sector and labor market, accelerate economic recovery, and expand access to public health services.

Kelly Bird, ADB country director for the Philippines, said the plan “is taking an integrated approach to business and employment recovery over the next three years through a combination of programs and projects supporting structural reforms to the business sector, facilitating youth employment, and upgrading skills development in the workplace.”

Under the plan, more than 52 percent of the lending will support transportation projects, such as railways, roads and bridges; and about 12 percent will help the government expand its public health system through the implementation of Republic Act 11223, or the “Universal Health Care Act.”

The rest will support environmentally sustainable urban development projects in Palawan province; expand social protection; and boost agriculture competitiveness, public-sector management and capital-market development.

“For our part, we will be paying special attention to accelerating infrastructure projects that have high fiscal impact multipliers. These are investments in local economies, businesses, communities and public services,” ADB Philippines Senior Program Officer Oscar Badiola said in a briefing.

“We will also focus our efforts on social investments that deliver better education and gaining outcomes, social protection, reskilling and reemployment of workers, rollout of universal healthcare, and scaling the response to Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019),” he added.

Nearly half of the funds programmed for 2021 — $1.75 billion — will finance the first tranche of the South Commuter Railway Project, which is part of the North–South Commuter Railway system.

Other projects in the program include the $100-million Sustainable Tourism Development Project; $100-million 180 Million Metro Manila Bridges Project; $238-million Davao Public Transport Modernization Project; $400-million Local Governance Reform Program, Subprogram 2; $400-million Facilitating Youth School-to-Work Transition, Subprogram 3, and $500-million Building Up Implementation and Local Level Drivers for Universal Health Care.

For 2022 and 2023, projects to receive funds include the $400-million Integrated Flood Risk Management Sector Project, Phase 1; $100-million Mindanao Irrigation Development Projects, Phase 1; $1-billion Malolos-Clark Railway Project, Tranche 2; $400-million Competitive and Inclusive Agriculture Development, Subprogram 2; $420-million Support for Post-Covid Business and Employment Recovery; $400-million Support to Capital Market Generated Infrastructure Financing, Subprogram 2; $100-million Integrating Innovation System in Philippine Technical and Vocational Education and Training; and $100-million Mindanao Agro-Enterprise Development Project.

The $1.2-billion South Commuter Railway Project Tranche 2; $500-million Metro Rail Transit Line 4 project; $300-million Inclusive Finance Development Program, Subprogram 3; $500-million Expanded Social Assistance Project Additional Financing; and $400-million Building Up Implementation and Local Level Drivers for Universal Health Care, Subprogram 2, are also included in this program.

“We have designed our new Country Operations Business Plan to help the Philippines overcome the socioeconomic impact of the [coronavirus] 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 Saeed said.

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