By Chino S. Leyco
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has expressed interest in investing more in the Philippines’ “Build, Build, Build” program, citing the government’s sustained efforts to shift to investment-led growth.
Top AIIB officials led by Dr. D. J. Pandian, the vice president and chief investment officer of the bank, explored projects for possible cooperation with the Philippines during a meeting with Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III in Mumbai, India.
Dominguez said possible AIIB loans would involve infrastructure projects that focus on improving the delivery of health care and education in line with the Duterte administration’s goal of human capital development.
“We are exploring a possible sectoral loan with AIIB to finance health care facilities, school buildings and rural roads,” the finance chief said.
The AIIB has so far approved one project in the Philippines — the Metro Manila Flood Management Project Phase 1 (MMFMP1) — which it is co-financing with the World Bank.
The project was approved by the AIIB Board and the World Bank in September last year, while the loan agreements were signed in December 2017 and declared effective on March 15, 2018.
Dominguez told AIIB officials that the Philippines is now moving towards an investment-led economy, with the industry sector growing by 7.9 percent and manufacturing sector expanding by 8 percent in the first quarter.
He also cited the first package of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program that is now being implemented to ensure a steady revenue stream that will help provide funding support for the “Build, Build, Build” projects.
The “Build, Build, Build” program consists of 75 flagship projects, of which 35 have already hurdled the approval process and are ready for execution. Ten of these projects will move to the construction stage this year.
Dominguez earlier said that the Philippines and the rest of Asia’s emerging economies are to the AIIB for more immediate and longer-term financing that will guarantee the success of our infrastructure investment program and the strong expansion of our domestic economies.”
During the AIIB Governors’ Business Roundtable, Dominguez underscored the urgency of modernizing transport infrastructure systems in Asia’s emerging economies to boost economic expansion and increase incomes.
He also highlighted the need to improved cross-border connectivity to accelerate efforts in building a common market in the region.