• Australia grants P5.7B to help improve lives of poor

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    The Australian government will provide P5.7 billion in official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines for the period of 2013 to 2014.

    In a statement, the Australian Embassy in Manila said its government is “strongly committed” in helping the country “overcome poverty.”

    Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said the P5.7 billion (Aus$141 million) in ODA grant reflected an increase of Aus$12 million from last year.

    In the year 2012-2013, Australian ODA to the Philippines was at P5.2 billion.

    This will increase Australia’s ODA to 0.37 percent of its gross national income (GNI), the statement said. Australia remains committed to increasing its ODA to 0.5 percent of GNI, it added.

    However, the Australian government has decided to defer this scale-up by one year to the period of 2017-2018.

    “Australia places high importance on delivering real results to help improve the lives of the poorest Filipinos. Managed by the Australian Agency for International Development [AusAID], Australia’s aid program in the Philippines is focused on strengthening basic services for the poor and reducing vulnerabilities arising from climate change and conflict,” Tweddell said.

    “Australia will support the largest and most significant reform in the Philippines education system in more than 20 years—introduction of a Kindergarten to Year 12 education program, which President Benigno Aquino 3rd recently signed into law. Australian assistance will train teachers and decision-makers, provide advice on curriculum development and help develop information technology systems,” he added.

    According to the statement, Australia is a major contributor in supporting the Philippines’ public-private partnerships (PPP) programs.

    It already invested in infrastructure development, including classroom construction, health services and transport. Investment in these areas is critical to fostering sustainable economic growth in the Philippines, the statement said.

    Also, Australia is committed to continue working with the Philippines “to deliver an innovative program that uses provincial road maintenance funding as an incentive for local governance reforms.”

    Bernice Camille V. Bauzon

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