• PH to form body for govt-to-govt economic deals with China

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    The government will designate an inter-agency body as the focal point of Philippine economic relations with China, particularly in dealing with potential Chinese investors, a Cabinet official announced Wednesday.

    In a press briefing in Malacañang, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to designate the Investment Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as the focal point when it comes to managing the country’s relationship with China.

    “Once the President has actually signed an order to do that, the ICC will go to China and ask the Chinese government to designate a single focal point also in China so that the dealings can be government-to-government,” he explained.

    “ICC will ask the Chinese government to designate and accredit the companies that they believe can do the projects to accredit them so that we will – so that the Philippine side will know which companies to deal with in China,” the Department of Finance (DOF) chief added.

    The ICC evaluates the implications of major national projects on fiscal and monetary policies and balance of payments position of the country, and recommends to the President the timetable of implementations on a regular basis. It advises the President on matters related to the domestic and foreign borrowings program, and submits a status on how the projects are having an impact on the fiscal, monetary and balance of payments aspects of the economy.

    It consists of the secretary of Finance, as chairman; the NEDA director-general, as co-chairman; and the executive secretary, the secretaries of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Budget and Management and the governor of the central bank of the Philippines, as members.

    Meanwhile, Dominguez said China’s investment pledges to the Philippines reached $6-billion dollars worth of official development assistance (ODA) and $3 billion worth of loans.

    “Of course you know, this is the first time we are doing ODA or Official Development Assistance with China so we don’t have a complete list of projects yet,” he said.

    Nevertheless, Dominguez stressed that among the projects in the pipeline include an irrigation project in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; the P200-billion project for a railway from Manila to Bicol; and various infrastructure projects within the Greater Manila Area.

    “But our projects really are going to be aimed outside of Greater Manila Area because we want to create jobs for people there—good jobs—so that we can reduce poverty in those areas,” he said.

    “The infrastructure projects outside of Metro Manila will also connect the farmers and small businessmen in the outlying areas to the main consuming areas of Manila. So those are the projects as I mentioned for the China ODA pledges,” he added.

    Besides government-to-government projects, Dominguez noted President Duterte’s state visit to China in October also resulted in huge private sector deals.

    “There were $15-billion worth of private business-to-business or private sector to private sector in China and these involve projects like a hotel chain opening here in the Philippines. I think they are aiming at 2,000 rooms. There are also projects for the development of infrastructure in the Clark Green City area,” he said.

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