• PH, Japan firm up 1-T yen financing pledge

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    Japan has firmed up its pledge to extend a 1-trillion yen financing assistance for Manila’s ambitious infrastructure program as the Philippine Department of Finance (DoF) officials highlighted two top priority projects worth hundreds of billions of pesos at a recent meeting.

    In a statement released Friday, the DoF said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd expressed anew the Philippine government’s deep appreciation for Japan Prime Minister Abe’s earlier pledge of 1-trillion yen ($8.7 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) and loans to help the Duterte administration carry out its ambitious 2017-2022 infrastructure program worth P8.4 trillion. The financial assistance is also expected to help the government effectively implement its campaign against illegal drugs.

    Dominguez informed Japan Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso that topping the list of Manila’s proposed projects for possible Japanese assistance in terms of financing and technology transfer were the P227 billion Mega Manila Subway and the Manila-Clark Railway Project, which will then link with the P288-billion North-South Commuter Rail (NSCR) project.

    Artist’s sketch of the proposed Mega Manila Subway

    This transpired during a meeting between Dominguez and Aso on the sidelines of the recent 50th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) held in Yokohama, Japan on May 4 to 7.

    “In their Yokohama meeting, both Aso and Dominguez underscored the importance of infrastructure to the Philippine economy and how it could provide more jobs and facilitate trade,” the DoF said in the statement.

    Mega Manila Subway is a 25-kilometer underground mass transportation system connecting major business districts and government centers. With an estimated cost of P227 billion, it is expected to serve about 370,000 passengers per day in its opening year.

    Meanwhile, the Manila-Clark Railway Project will link Tutuban in Manila to Clark, Pampanga. The Clark Rail segment will then link with the P288-billion North-South Commuter Rail (NSCR) project, which was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board in February 2015.

    “In their Yokohama meeting, both Aso and Dominguez underscored the importance of infrastructure to the Philippine economy and how it could provide more jobs and facilitate trade,” the DoF said.

    In an earlier meeting in March, the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation discussed the Philippines’ priority projects for possible implementation with Japan ODA financing and support.

    The priority list covers projects in railway; irrigation; and public works projects covering road and flood management.

    The Philippine officials led by Dominguez also submitted additional projects in the areas of public works, energy, and industrial zone development as candidates for Japan ODA financing.

    The first meeting of the Joint Committee followed the successful official visit of President Duterte to Japan last year and the reciprocal visit made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Philippines in January.

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