DAVAO CITY: Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd on Saturday bared that the Duterte administration raised P1 trillion in financial assistance from official donors in just seven months, a record.
In a news conference, Dominguez said the amount, which covered only official development assistance (ODA) from China and Japan at $9 billion and ¥1 trillion, respectively, since July 2016, was the highest amount raised by any new Philippine president.
“I’m only counting the amounts from China and the amounts from Japan…And there are some more ODA that we have received but I haven’t counted in from various other countries,” he said following a gathering of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Marco Polo Hotel.
He said the total amount did not cover trade deals like the $15 billion in private commercial deals between the Philippines and China.
The term ODA covers government-provided financial loans for infrastructure projects with generally low interest rates and long-term payment, the Cabinet official explained.
Dominguez said the government would soon line up projects to be funded by Japanese ODA and discuss in details the terms of assistance offered by Tokyo. There were projects in the pipeline announced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to the Philippines last week, but were not included in the tally, he said.
As for Chinese ODA, the government submitted a list of projects to Beijing last November 29. Government officials will travel to China this month to discuss the projects, Dominguez said.
Among these are the rehabilitation of the Agus River project, irrigation projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and a seaport in Cebu.
Asked why the government has received such huge offers, Dominguez said: “I think they see a lot of potential in the Philippine economy.”
He cited as an example the Calabarzon (Calamba, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region which saw a lot of infrastructure development during the administration of President Corazon Aquino.
Dominguez, who was a Cabinet member in the first Aquino administration, noted that the Calabarzon area was mostly financed by Japanese ODA, and catered to Japanese companies.
“So we are looking forward to a similar move but probably do this integrated area development projects farther away from the greater Manila or the Mega Manila area,” he said.
Areas being eyed for development include Mindanao and Northern Luzon.
Dominguez however emphasized that infrastructure development would not only cover physical projects but also education, training and other services that would make workers more competitive abroad.
“So it’s not only hard infrastructure but also education, science and technology,” he said.