ADB: PH loans for socioeconomic programs to possibly reach $9.4 billion in 2021-2023

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 16) — The Asian Development Bank assures more funding to support the Philippine government's programs in the next two years aiming to jump-start the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the ADB said loans to the country is "expected" to hit $9.4 billion (around ₱451.7 billion) between 2021 and 2023. At least two-thirds of the amount will go to infrastructure, health, and employment recovery initiatives in line with its Country Operations Business Plan.

"We will be paying special attention to accelerating infrastructure projects that have high fiscal impact multipliers. These are the investments that link local economies, businesses, communities, and public services to those that need them," ADB Philippines Senior Programs Officer Oscar Badiola said in an online press conference.

Over 50 percent of the loans will augment transportation projects, which include the likes of railways, roads and bridges, noted ADB. For instance, $1.75 billion or half of its lending program for 2021 will finance the initial construction of the South Commuter Railway Project. All in all, the project will get $4.3 billion from the regional lender.

The 55-kilometer train line is a segment of the larger North-South Commuter Railway, which will connect New Clark City to Manila and will run up to Calamba, Laguna. The Transportation Department-led project is also among the biggest under the Duterte administration's "Build, Build, Build" program.

The ADB shall also provide a minimum funding of $180 million for the Metro Manila Bridges Project, which involves the construction of three bridges across the Marikina River in a bid to address traffic congestion in the metro.

It will also finance $238 million of the $350-million Davao Public Transport Modernization Project, which will "establish a modern, efficient, and affordable public transport system" in the locality. It is set to be rolled out this 2021.

Meanwhile, the multi-lateral lender said 12% of its financing will assist government efforts in expanding the public health system through the Universal Health Care Act's implementation. This involves a $500 million (around ₱24 billion) loan to support comprehensive and affordable healthcare services for Filipinos, it noted.

The business plan is also "taking an integrated approach to business and employment recovery over the next three years through a combination of programs and projects supporting structural reforms to the business sector, facilitating youth employment, and upgrading skills development in the workplace,” added ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird.

With this, the ADB said it is preparing a policy-based Facilitating Youth School-to-Work Transition Program and a technical and vocational education and training project line with its commitment to help generate more jobs and improve the skill set of Filipino workers in the coming year.

"The rest of ADB's lending will support environmentally sustainable urban development projects in Palawan province, which is located in the Philippines' southwest; expand social protection; and boost agriculture competitiveness, public sector management, and capital market development," it said.

This development, the ADB said, involves funding improvements in urban facilities in the province like sewerage and waste water treatment and drainage.

The institution also mentioned it will be working with the Philippine government on a "business and employment recovery program loan" in 2022.

The ADB is among the foreign entities the Philippines has turned to in search of additional funding for its coronavirus response measures, having lent the country billions in funding.