The European Union (EU) has committed grants to the Philippines for agricultural productivity in Mindanao and to provide electricity to its far-flung small island-communities, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement, the DOF announced that EU Delegation to the Philippines Charge d’affaires Thomas Wiersing committed an additional 150 million euros (around P8.5 billion) to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, of which two-thirds will help finance agricultural and electricity programs.
As of August this year, the EU has extended a total of EUR85 million-worth of grants for the government’s peace and development initiatives in Mindanao.
During a recent virtual meeting with Dominguez, Wiersing also reaffirmed the EU’s intention to reorient portions of its grants to the Philippine government’s COVID-19 response efforts in Mindanao.
Wiersing also restated the EU’s continuing assistance to institute reforms in the Philippines’ justice system through the second phase of the Justice Sector Reform Programme: Governance in Justice (GOJUST 2).
On behalf of the Philippine government, Dominguez thanked the EU for continuing to support the Duterte administration’s peace- and confidence-building initiatives as well as for its assistance in boosting trade and agricultural productivity in Mindanao.
Dominguez also expressed his appreciation for the EU’s plan to reorient portions of its grants to Mindanao’s pandemic response efforts and its intention to provide support to cash-strapped local government units (LGUs) in the South.
He likewise welcomed the EU’s plan to provide grants for the electrification of Mindanao’s small island-communities and suggested the use of clean energy to implement this project.
Christoph Wagner, the new head of cooperation of the EU Delegation, welcomed the importance placed by Dominguez on the issue of the climate crisis with his clean energy recommendation for Mindanao’s rural electrification.
During the same meeting, Dominguez sought the EU’s expertise and assistance in accelerating the competitiveness of the Philippines’ manufacturing sector, given its weaknesses as a result of the country’s sudden jump from an agriculture- to a services-based economy.
Dominguez said the EU, with its large manufacturing base, can share its technical expertise or extend assistance in providing the necessary equipment to help integrate medium-sized enterprises in the supply chain of big companies.
Strengthening and incentivizing the manufacturing sector will help the Philippines sustain its recovery from the pandemic, Dominguez said.