Philippine and Chinese officials will hold a series of meetings this week in Beijing to discuss the flagship projects under the Build Build Build program, according to a statement by the Department of Finance (DOF).
Michael Varcas
Palace to disclose details of all deals with China
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday expressed readiness to disclose details of all deals with Chinese firms as the Duterte administration eyes more agreements with China to support its infrastructure projects.

Philippine and Chinese officials will hold a series of meetings this week in Beijing to discuss the flagship projects under the Build Build Build program, according to a statement by the Department of Finance (DOF).

Members of the Philippine delegation led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea are expected to meet with Chinese commerce officials today to talk about possible new agreements on infrastructure cooperation.

Philippine officials will also meet with officials of the Export-Import Bank of China and the China International Development Cooperation Agency, which reviews China’s foreign aid projects.

Asked if it was necessary to disclose all contracts with Chinese firms, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo replied: “Well, that’s pursuant to transparency, yes. Why not?”

Philippine officials are also expected to meet with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and to attend a Philippine Economic Briefing to convince businesses to invest in the Philippines.

China vowed to provide $9 billion in soft loans to the Philippines in 2016 during Duterte’s first visit to China. Critics have expressed concern about the Duterte administration’s reliance on Chinese loans, saying it could result in a “debt trap.”

Earlier this month, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad advised the Philippines to be very careful with Chinese loans, saying a borrower would be under the control of the lender if he fails to repay his debts.

Finance officials have allayed concerns that Chinese loans are disadvantageous to the country, saying the Philippines was able to secure better concessional loan financing from China for its big-ticket water infrastructure projects. They claimed that the loans have lower interest rates and fees and longer grace periods compared with those obtained by the previous administration.

The Philippines projected that the debt to China would only constitute about 4.5 percent of the total debt by 2022, when most of the funding for infrastructure projects would have been accessed, the DOF added.

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