World Bank okays $900-M loans for PH

The World Bank on Thursday approved two loans to support the Philippines’ efforts to recover from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, improve competitiveness, and build resilience against shocks and natural disasters.

The World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. XINHUA FILE PHOTO

In a statement, the Washington-based multilateral lender said one of the loans, the $600-million Promoting Competitiveness and Enhancing Resilience to Natural Disasters Development Policy Loan, would support reforms to hasten the adoption of digital technologies, promote greater competition, and reduce the costs of doing business to revive more economic activities.

It would also help small and medium enterprises recover from the global public health crisis, help citizens cope with social distancing measures and other health protocols, and improve the delivery of social assistance to the most disadvantaged groups in society, it added.

“Reforms to improve digital infrastructure and speed up [the] adoption of digital technologies will not only help the country’s efforts to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, but will also boost its export competitiveness that is vital for creating more and better jobs in the future,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The second loan, an additional $300 million for the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) National Community Driven Development Project (KC-NCDDP), aims to help address rural poverty.

According to the World Bank, the new funds would provide grants to finance community-identified and -managed responses that restore or improve basic social services to address the impact of the pandemic and other disasters that overly affected the poorest and most vulnerable towns.

“Community-driven development approaches have shown to be effective in accelerating community reconstruction following disaster events and efficiently putting money for priority needs of communities around the world,” Diop said.

“I have no doubt that the same approach — communities working together to address common challenges — will help them bounce back from this pandemic and build resilience to future shocks at the same time,” he added.

The KC-NCDDP is implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Under this project, poor communities organize themselves, analyze their own situation, prepare project proposals to address common problems, and compete for block grants to finance their own projects.

These include local basic facilities, such as access roads and bridges, water systems, school buildings, and daycare centers, in the poorest communities with limited internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the government and are not reached by other programs because of several factors.

The World Bank said communities can also secure funding for isolation facilities, improvements in water and sanitation and construction or upgrading of health stations.

Community members are also responsible for implementation and maintenance of these projects.

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