By Chino S. Leyco
Key government officials will fly to Beijing this week to continue their discussions with the Chinese over the Duterte administration’s two “baskets” of infrastructure projects that could be funded by China, the Department of Finance (DOF) said over the weekend.
In a statement, the finance department said that a Philippine delegation, led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, is in the China’s capital on August 22 to 24 to discuss “issues and changes” in the government’s ambitious infrastructure plan.
Without providing the details on the “issues and changes,” the DOF said that China has committed to support the country’s “Build, Build, Build,” program through official development assistance (ODA) loans and grants.
The high-level upcoming meeting will include “updates on the progress of the ‘first basket’ of projects for Chinese loan financing,” the DOF said.
Among the projects under the “first basket” are the Chico river pump irrigation, new centennial water source-Kaliwa dam, the Philippine National Railways’ south long haul, and the Davao-Samal bridge construction.
The recently broke ground Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges, which are being funded with grants from China, are also part of the agenda.
Also up for discussion under the “second basket,” includes the Ambal-Simuay river and Rio Grande de Mindanao river flood control, Pasig-Marikina river and Manggahan floodway bridges, Subic-Clark railway, safe Philippines Phase I, and the Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric power plants rehabilitation.
Along with Dominguez, the delegation includes Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Socioeonomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano is also expected to join the party, as well as Vivencio Dizon, president and chief executive of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
The Philippine delegation are set to meet with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister and Commerce Minister as well as officials from China International Development Cooperation Agency; Export-Import Bank of China; and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The delegation is also set to pay a courtesy call on Vice Premier of Economic Cooperation Hu Chunhua.
Dominguez said the high-level Meetings will focus on strengthening and enhancing bilateral engagement and cooperation between Manila and Beijing.
“We express the hope that a number of bilateral documents would be presented and signed during the meeting, among them the exchange of letters for the feasibility study of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridges Project,” Dominguez said.
Last April, the two countries signed a $62 million loan agreement to help fund the construction of the Chico river pump irrigation project and a separate accord on economic and technical cooperation providing for a $79-million grant for at least four other projects.