Duterte government sets out to seek funding pledges
Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Duterte administration will pitch for the first time for assistance and support from development partners in November, looking at securing funding, while providing avenue to assure investors rule of law is being followed on its anti-drug war.

A Philippine Development Forum (PDF) is in the works and is “tentatively” scheduled two months from now, said Editha Martin, executive director of the central bank’s Investor Relations Office.

The annual event is held to secure commitments from the country’s official development assistance (ODA) providers, who will have a chance to dialogue with the government’s economic team.

At this early though, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has moved to get support for the new government’s first spending plan, which included more than 80 percent of foreign borrowings sourced from ODA.

After meeting with Japan and China, the finance chief met with representatives from the World Bank last Sept. 14, led by Victoria Kwakwa, the agency’s vice-president for East Asia and the Pacific.

“It was a very productive meeting with the World Bank officials,” Dominguez was quoted as saying in a statement yesterday.

Among others, the Department of Finance (DOF) secured the lender’s commitment for a technical assistance for tax reform, including “sharing best practices and experiences” abroad as well as strengthening the Bureau of Customs’ revenue collection capacity.

Included also in the agenda was an assurance from Dominguez the Duterte government “prioritizes” rule of law and order as well as “strengthening peaceful and cordial relations with Philippines’ neighbors.”

This came as President Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs program has raised concerns on human rights violations, his cancelled meeting with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting and tirades against US forces in the country.

By country, the US is the third largest provider of ODA to the Philippines, government data showed.

Meanwhile, Washington-based World Bank has a net commitment of more than $3 billion comprising of 15 projects.

For 2017, 80 percent or P102.26 billion of the P126.26-billion in gross foreign borrowings will be sourced through ODA.

This marked a change from the previous administration’s focus on commercial borrowings or through bond issuances for its funding needs.

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