CHINA’S Commerce minister is visiting Manila later this month, an occasion the Philippines would like to take advantage of by submitting a list of priority projects for funding, the Department of Finance (DOF) said over the weekend.
During his recent visit to Beijing, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd informed Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng that formal letters of request for the priority projects would be submitted before the Chinese officials arrives in Manila for a two-day visit on February 23 to 24, the DOF said.
Last month’s Philippine mission to China, led by Dominguez, submitted a list of 40 “large and small” infrastructure projects to Beijing for possible loan financing and assistance in conducting feasibility studies.
Gao and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez are leading a re-launch of the Philippines-China Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation (JCETC) later this month, according to the DOF. Gao will be accompanied to Manila by a Chinese business delegation.
“We hope that by the time Minister Gao visits here, we would also be able to complete the Six-Year Development Program for the China-Philippines Cooperation. We eagerly look forward to Minister Gao’s visit because there will be much to accomplish on both sides,” Dominguez said.
A memorandum of understanding on the formulation of the Six-Year Development Program was signed by Gao and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. during President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to China last October.
China and the Philippines aim to come up with a system of ensuring that the projects truly benefit the Filipino people and ensure that Chinese taxpayers’ money are spent wisely, Dominguez earlier said.
Dominguez noted some of the projects on the list are relatively small in scale and easier to implement such as building bridges across the Pasig River to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
Gao requested that the Philippines submit the letters of request for the “small bridges” so as to start “as quickly as possible” the feasibility studies and initiate the projects, according to the DoF.
“The overall message is clear. We want to implement the projects as quickly as possible,” Gao was quoted as saying during the Beijing meeting.
Of the 40 projects presented by the Philippines, 15 are for loan financing and 25 for feasibility study funding.
Three of the large-scale projects have a combined cost of $3.4 billion:
Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in the provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga—$53.6 million
New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam in Quezon—$374.03 million
South Line of the North-South Railway from Manila to Legaspi City in Bicol—$3.01billion.
Nine other projects were also presented to China, including an interconnectivity project for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao as well as a flood control system and a stable power supply for Mindanao.