Japan, PH discuss funding of 9 projects worth P315-B

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THE Japanese government has signified its interest in funding nine of the flagship projects of the Duterte administration worth P315 billion, in line with its commitment to support the Philippines’ socioeconomic agenda, the Department of Finance (DoF) announced on Friday.

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“Both sides discussed plans and actions to be undertaken in a mutually agreed schedule that will ensure the swift implementation of big-ticket projects,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd told reporters after the end of the 2nd meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation held at the Bureau of Treasury office in Manila.

Special Adviser to Prime Minister Hiroto Izumi shakes hands with Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez during the 2nd Philippines-Japan High Level Joint Committee and  Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation meeting held at the Sala de Sesiones, Bereau of Treasury office in Intramuros. PHOTO BY ROGER RAÑADA

“These include major projects on railways, flood management and roads, which are part of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program to decongest Metro Manila and further develop areas outside the National Capital Region, as well as cooperation on public safety, including the anti-drug campaign of President [Rodrigo] Duterte,” Dominguez added.

One of the nine projects is the “Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST) Project” in Mindanao, estimated to cost $46.17 million, or P2-billion

HARVEST seeks to contribute to the government’s goals of employment generation through financing of agribusiness-related activities, and support the government’s peace and development efforts in Mindanao.
Specifically, it intends to provide credit assistance of up to P11.1 billion for agribusiness activities within the region, and generate 21,700 jobs upon implementation.

Another project is the Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Phase 2, the cost of which has yet to be finalized. This will involve the construction of irrigation canals in the Upper Malitubog Area, with a total size of 2,206 hectares, the Lower Malitubog Service area with 6,950 hectares of land, as well as the Pagalungan Extension area, with a land area of 988 hectares.

The other projects are: the Mega Manila Subway Project, Phase 1, at a cost of $4.2 billion. The project was proposed by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) that includes the construction of a 25.3 kilometer (km) subway with 13 stations starting from Mindanao-Quirino and ending at FTI; the Malolos-Clark Railway Project, worth $1.9 billion or P93.4-billion. The amount will fund the construction of a 69.5 km railway from Malolos to Clark Green City with 8 stations; the Cavite Industrial Area Flood Management Project, which aims to mitigate flood damages in Cavite Lowland Area caused by river overflow, inland flood, or tidal flood amounting to P9.89 billion; the Dalton Pass East Alignment Project worth P4.8 billion, for the construction of a 60-km bypass road from San Jose City, Nueva Ecija to Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya; the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao, costing P10 billion to establish roads connecting the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other surrounding regions; and lastly, the Pasig River-Marikina Channel Improvement Project worth P26 billion. The project aims to mitigate flood damage in Metro Manila caused by channel overflow of the Pasig-Marikina river by implementing river channel improvement works.

Apart from Dominguez, present at the second meeting were other Philippine Cabinet secretaries Benjamin
Diokno (Budget), Arthur Tugade (Transportation), Alfonso Cusi (Energy) and other officials; while Hiroto Izumi, who is special advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, represented the Japanese side.

The officials also discussed other matters, such as possible pipeline projects that were mutually identified during the first meeting. Details, however, were not disclosed.

Asked what bargaining the Philippines needed to do to solicit Japanese financing, Dominguez said: “There is no bargaining—we were just discussing the projects.”

“[And] it is possible that there would be more projects that would be added to this list.”

For the next Philippines-Japan meeting, the two governments are expected to focus on issues of implementation and progress.

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