Gov’t foreign-assisted projects hit $31 billion

Published September 27, 2021, 1:01 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The value of all ongoing foreign-assisted projects of the government increased by almost half last year after President Duterte augmented the country’s coronavirus response, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported.

In a statement, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said on Monday, Sept. 27, that the country’s active official development assistance (ODA) portfolio reached $30.7 billion last year, 46.6 higher percent compared with $20.9 billion in 2019.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua

“The unprecedented challenges brought by the pandemic prompted a shift in sourcing and utilizing official development assistance (ODA) financing in the new normal, from project-specific to quick-disbursing program loans,” the NEDA said.

“In 2020, the government entered into several quick-disbursing program loans to deliver critical policy reforms in priority sectors, particularly on improving the country’s health system capacity and addressing the fiscal and economic impacts of the pandemic,” the agency added.

Based on NEDA’s recently released ODA portfolio review report, the active foreign-assisted project portfolio consisted of 30 program loans, 76 project loans, and 251 grants.

Among these, 59 loans and grants were signed last year, consisting of 20 program loans worth $8.2 billion, 14 project financing valued at $2.9 billion, and 25 grants costing $140 million.

The governance and institutions development sector recorded the highest share in last year’s ODA portfolio, amounting to $5 billion, or 45 percent. This was followed by the social reform and community development sector with a 31 percent share.

Meanwhile, the infrastructure development sector, which historically accounted for the largest share, only came third with a 16 percent share.

The NEDA report stated that ODA was secured to augment the government’s COVID-19 response, such as the procurement and delivery of vaccines, and support for the emergency cash assistance program.

Moreover, the foreign aid was also used to procure medical supplies and equipment, construction of isolation and quarantine facilities, and strengthening the capacity of existing health facilities.

“Because of our strong fiscal position, we were able to procure a total of 195 million vaccine doses from both the government and private sector, provide emergency cash transfers for those affected by the quarantines, and strengthen our overall response to address the pandemic,” Chua said.

As of 2020, Japan remained as the country’s overall top provider of ODA with $11.2 billion (36.4 percent) worth of loans and grants, followed by the Asian Development Bank with $8.8 billion (28.5 percent), and the World Bank with $6.4 billion (21 percent).

NEDA conducts the ODA portfolio review annually, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 8182 or the ODA Act of 1996, as amended by RA 8555.