Refocusing of the Philippines’ foreign policy has allowed the country to regain the attention of foreign creditors, which, in turn, is advantageous to the government’s massive infrastructure program.
In a briefing after the 6th Philippine-Japan High Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Wednesday night, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said, “many countries around the world are paying attention to the Philippines primarily because President (Rodrigo) Duterte has refocused our entire foreign policy.”
He said the President “has very wisely focused the attention on the Philippines and is relying on being part of this area, which is the fastest growing area in the world."
“So, it makes total sense that we are reviving also their attention and assistance,” he said, noting that the governments of China, Japan and Korea, among others, have committed to provide financing to various programs of the Philippine government.
The finance chief pointed out that it is the ordinary people who will benefit the most from renewed tie-ups.
This, as the loans being provided by foreign governments are intended to finance projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
The government has identified 75 priority projects that include roads, bridges and transport systems all over the country.
Among these is the Metro Manila subway project that will be financed partly by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province that will be financed partly by the Chinese government.
Dominguez said these projects are well-studied and underwent rigorous evaluation.
Dominguez also said that it is important to take advantage of the country’s current attractiveness to foreign creditors because “the Philippines is already at the verge of graduating to the level where we will not qualify anymore for ODA (official development assistance) for some countries.”
“Our income per capita is rising so while we are still here, I think it is best for us to take advantage of the long tenors and the relatively low interest rates because after a few years, we will no longer be qualified for that,” he said, citing that when a country becomes a middle income nation, it will have to pay higher interest rates.
“So, it makes sense for us to have these projects funded now rather than later,” he added.