ADB targets $3.9 billion lending for Philippines in 2021

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
ADB targets $3.9 billion lending for Philippines in 2021
Based on the updated lending pipeline for the Philippines for 2021, a total of $3.86 billion worth of projects will be financed by the ADB.
AFP / File

MANILA, Philippines — Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) is eyeing to lend some $3.86 billion (P187 billion) to the Philippines this year to help the country move toward economic recovery amid the pandemic.

Based on the updated lending pipeline for the Philippines for 2021, a total of $3.86 billion worth of projects will be financed by the ADB.

Bulk of this or $1.93 billion has been allotted for infrastructure and long-term investments. Another $1.2 billion is for human capital while the remaining $734 million is for local economic development.

For infrastructure, $1.75 billion is for the South Commuter Railway Project or the Clark–Calamba Railway. The 148-kilometer urban rail transit line will run from New Clark City in Tarlac to Calamba with 36 stations.

“The project is for approval this year. We are targeting for most of the contracts to be awarded by the end of this year so that civil works can begin next year,” ADB country director Kelly Bird said in a virtual briefing Wednesday.

This would complement the Malolos–Clark Railway Project which ADB approved in 2019. Civil work contracts worth $2.4 billion are expected to start this year.

Some $180 million will be lent for the Metro Manila Bridges Project for the construction of three new bridges crossing Marikina River as part of the government’s effort to solve the traffic woes in the capital.

For human capital, total lending for the Philippines for 2021 includes the $400 million for the procurement of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, a move critical to the country’s thrust toward economic recovery.

Another $400 million each has also been set aside facilitating youth school-to-work transition, and building up implementation for the Universal Health Care program.

As to local economic development, $400 million has been earmarked for local governance reform program while $238 million will be lent for the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project.

Some $96 million will be lent for sustainable development projects in Palawan.

“It will be focusing on the development of marine resource management, providing grants for tourism enterprises to improve their competitiveness and skills training. This is designed to ensure environmental and sustainable tourism in Palawan,” Bird said.

Last year, a record $4.2 billion was lent to the Philippines, representing 13.2 percent of ADB’s total lending of $31.6 billion in the Asia Pacific region.

This makes the Philippines the second largest recipient of funding from ADB, next to India’s $4.4 billion.

ADB remains one of the country’s largest sources of official development assistance, with average annual lending of $1.9 billion over the last five years.

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