Philippines ODA portfolio rises to $30.7 billion

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s official development assistance (ODA) portfolio surged nearly 50 percent to $30.7 billion (P1.57 trillion) last year as it funded its pandemic response through quick-disbursing program loans.

Latest ODA portfolio review released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showed that the active ODA portfolio totaled $30.7 billion in 2020, 47 percent higher than the $20.9 billion (P1.07 trillion) in 2019.

The huge jump in total portfolio was due to programs and projects for COVID-19 response, infrastructure development, governance and institutions development, social reform and community development, food security and environmental protection, and trade and investment.

An ODA is a low-interest loan or a grant administered to promote a country’s sustainable social and economic development and welfare.

ODA resources must be contracted with governments of foreign countries with which the Philippines has diplomatic, trade relations or bilateral agreements, or which are members of the United Nations, their agencies, and international or multilateral lending institutions.

Active ODA portfolio consists of 30 program loans, 76 project loans and 251 grants. Of these, 20 program loans ($8.2 billion), 14 project loans ($2.9 billion) and 25 grants ($140 million) were signed in 2020 alone.

NEDA said the unprecedented challenges spawned by the pandemic prompted a shift in sourcing and utilizing ODA financing in the new normal, from project-specific to quick-disbursing program loans.

“In 2020, the government entered into several quick-disbursing program loans to deliver critical policy reforms in priority sectors, particularly on improving the country’s health system capacity and addressing the fiscal and economic impacts of the pandemic,” NEDA said.

By fund source, Japan remained the country’s top ODA provider, accounting for 36 percent of the total at $11.18 billion. The Asian Development Bank came in second at $8.75 billion or 29 percent.

Washington-based World Bank is the third top source with $6.44 billion or 21 percent of the total. Completing the top five providers are the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the South Korean government.

The Department of Finance, as borrower or signatory, accounted for the largest share or 30 percent of the total portfolio at $9.23 billion for 29 loans and grants.

It was followed by the Department of Transportation at $8.59 billion, while the Department of Public Works and Highways came in third with $4.87 billion.

By sector, infrastructure development secured the bulk of the ODA at 47 percent, worth $14.55 billion.

This was followed by governance and institutions development, and social reform and community development with $7.47 billion and $6.11 billion, respectively.

For region-specific programs and projects, the National Capital Region got the lion’s share at 34 percent worth $2.96 billion, followed by Central Luzon and Central Visayas.

NEDA maintained that ODA was secured to augment the government’s COVID-19 response, such as the procurement and delivery of vaccines, support for the emergency cash assistance program, provision of medical supplies and equipment, construction of isolation and quarantine facilities, and strengthening the capacity of existing health facilities.

“Because of our strong fiscal position, we were able to procure a total of 195 million vaccine doses from both the government and private sector, provide emergency cash transfers for those affected by the quarantines, and strengthen our overall response to address the pandemic,” NEDA said.

Meanwhile, a total of 122 programs and projects, which were financed with 62 loans and 60 grants, supported the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

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