DOF ‘happy’ with China-funded projects

Published August 25, 2021, 2:28 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The government’s chief economic manager said he is “happy” with the implementation of the China-funded projects that the country received since President Duterte took the reins of power more than five-years ago.

Despite skepticism about Chinese loans, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the expanded financial presence of China in the government’s financing programs has been “beneficial” to the Philippines.

“They get implemented, rather quickly,” Dominguez told reporters. “So are we happy with them? Yes we are happy because they are according to terms that are beneficial to us.”

“We pay a very good interest rate, the terms are good, and the projects are okay,” he added.

While there were “some difficulties” particularly in the approval process, Dominguez believes that these could be considered as birthing pains as the Philippines and China’s bureaucracies and procedures do not match.

“We had anticipated this since we were just really starting to deal with China in a very massive way,” Dominguez said.

Despite being considered a new found sovereign creditor of the Philippines, China has been met with skepticism from President Duterte’s critics. They claim that some crucial details about the terms and conditions of the loans were still murky.

Dominguez had repeatedly asserted that there was nothing secretive about Chinese loans as all the nitty-gritty features of these contracts were published on the DOF’s website.

Data from the International Finance Group revealed that official development assistance (ODA) from China amounted only $1.185 billion between 2001 and 2020, equivalent to six percent of the ODA loan portfolio.

Over the last 20 years, Japan remained the Philippines’ top source of ODA, accounting for $14.139 billion worth of loans or 72 percent of the foreign aid portfolio.

But comparing the loan portfolios of Japan and other development partners of the Philippines with China would not provide greater understanding, Dominguez said.

“We’ve been dealing with Japanese far far longer than the Chinese,” Dominguez said, citing that Japanese ODAs go back to the 1950s.

“We are more or less, quite in tune with the Japanese system, to some extent with the American system and the European system, but our systems in China are not exactly meshed yet,” he added.

The finance chief said the Philippines has at least over P7 billion in China-funded projects that are in various stages of negotiations.

So far, the Philippines has three projects funded by China’s ODA—Chico River Pump Irrigation Project for the National Irrigation Administration, the Kaliwa Dam for MWSS, and the Philippine National Railway Long Haul Project.