The Philippines is seeking additional loans from the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for other big-ticket infrastructure projects under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said during the Asian Infrastructure Forum seminar held in Mumbai, India this week that there was an urgency of developing both the physical and digital infrastructure of the Philippines and other emerging economies in Asia to hasten the development of a common market across the region and transform Southeast Asia into a strong base for trade.
“A dynamic regional common market will provide our economies a strong base to build competitive industries and profitably trade with the rest of the world. An emergent Southeast Asia will complement the mature economies of East Asia and the rapidly growing Indian subcontinent,” he said.
Dominguez said the Philippines’ massive infrastructure buildup was made possible by the expanded support of its friends in the region and multilateral agencies such as the AIIB.
The AIIB so far committed to co-finance with the World Bank the first phase of the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, which will be built to improve flood forecasting, reduce long-term flooding, modernize pumping stations and build new ones.
Among the projects that the Philippines pitched to the AIIB for possible financing support are the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit System (Phase 3 from Bonifacio Global City to Ninoy Aquino International Airport), the Pasacao-Balatan Tourism Coastal Highway in Camarines Sur and the Camarines Sur Expressway Project (San Fernando-Pili Section).
“We are hopeful that with the approval of the funding for this project, the AIIB would find it feasible to invest in other big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program,” Dominguez said. Julito G. Rada
Dominguez said the initiative to improve infrastructure across the region, the AIIB’s primary goal, “will help stimulate economic activity in all our economies and help us build inclusive growth for our people” in the immediate term, and “improve the interconnectivity of the region’s economies and foster productive exchange” over the longer term.
Dominguez said this is why President Duterte launched the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, which would involve 75 high-impact projects, of which 35 already hurdled the approval processes and were ready for execution.
Ten of these projects are moving into the construction stage this year, with 25.4 percent of the national budget committed to infrastructure investments, or equivalent to 6.3 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.
Dominguez said that by 2022, public spending on infrastructure was expected to increase to 7.3 percent of GDP.