Philippines 'very careful' with China's loan deals â Diokno
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno says the Philippine government is "very careful" with China's offer of loan deals.

Philippines 'very careful' with China's loan deals — Diokno

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - November 19, 2018 - 12:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — Following United States Vice President Mike Pence's warning against China's offer of loans to poorer countries, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the Philippines is "very careful" on the matter.

"We are very careful. Number one, we choose the projects we want," Diokno said at the Pandesal Forum on Monday.

The budget secretary added that the projects being entered to with Beijing undergo a rigorous process as it would have to go through the National Economic and Development Authority.

If the project falls below 10 percent internal investment, the Philippine government will not undertake the project, Diokno said.

"Second, we would step around for the best terms," Diokno added.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, on the other hand, said the government would review the Belt and Road agreement again following Pence's remarks.

Dominguez insisted that the deal with China is a "win-win-win for everybody" and does not compromise sovereignty.

"But again with those remarks, we will certainly review it again," Dominguez said.

The Philippines is set to sign several agreements with China during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping this week. These include projects under the government's "Build Build Build" infrastructure program.

In a speech at the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Papua New Guinea, the American vice president alleged that China's loans to Pacific Island countries have caused debt burden for recipient countries.

"Yet the terms of those loans are often opaque at best. Projects they support are often unsustainable and of poor quality. And too often, they come with strings attached and lead to staggering debt," Pence said.

Beijing, meanwhile, insisted that it has followed the principle of "sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith" in its cooperation with other countries.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said all concerned parties should "adopt a responsible and constructive attitude" as the APEC is at a crucial stage of development.

"Our advice for the relevant country is that instead of pointing fingers at others, it would be better to match its deeds with its words and truly treat all countries, big or small, as equals, respect the right enjoyed by other countries to choose the development path in light of their national conditions and make substantial contributions to the development of developing countries," Hua said, referring to the United States.

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