TO TURN DBP INTO AN INFRASTRUCTURE BANK

StanChart offers to help build Mindanao railway

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STANDARD Chartered Bank has shown interest in helping build Mindanao Railway and converting a state-owned lender into an infrastructure bank, the Department of Finance (DoF) said on Thursday.

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StanChart wants to provide financial and technical assistance to the Philippines in implementing the proposed railway system in Mindanao under the government’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program, the DoF said in a statement.

“There are five projects approved by the National Economic and Development Authority, and the largest is the railway in Mindanao. We want to see how we can help there,” the DoF quoted Lynette Ortiz, chief executive officer and country head of Standard Chartered Bank Global Banking division for the Philippines, as saying in a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd.

The Mindanao Railway will connect major cities, seaports and economic zones, allowing faster movement of freight and passengers. The P35.26 billion, 105-kilometer Tagum-Davao City-Digos segment is expected to serve over 100,000 passengers daily during its opening year.

StanChart also offered to facilitate the conversion of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) into an infrastructure bank.

Dominguez welcomed the offer. “We’d really like to partner with you on this,” he said.

It would be a welcome development for DBP President and CEO Cecille Borromeo to work with StanChart, “especially with your experience in Asia,” the Cabinet official said.

Dominguez cited four major railway projects under the Duterte administration’s infrastructure plan. These include the Manila-Clark commuter railway project that is expected to commence between October and December this year; the proposed Mega Manila Subway, with its first phase running from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Quezon City; the Calamba-Bicol railway; the Metro Rail Transit 7 project from Manila to Bulacan; and the first stage of the Mindanao Railway project connecting the cities of Digos in Davao del Sur and Tagum in Davao del Norte.

“The whole idea is, we believe, we’re so far behind our neighbors in terms of infrastructure, and it just makes sense to spend money on it. But we’re not going do it like how they did it in the past,” Dominguez noted.

“Doing it through PPP [public-private partnership] takes so much time. Our administration is willing to start the projects, and outsource the operations and maintenance later. It will allow people who are averse to take the construction risks to come in,” he said.

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