Philippines secures $1.14 billion in World Bank loans to bolster economy and enhance climate resilience

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Philippines entered into a series of loan agreements with the World Bank last week, totalling $1.14 billion. This includes $750 million designated for policy reforms that aim to enhance environmental protection and promote climate resilience, as announced by the Philippines’ finance department.

These loan agreements also incorporate $276 million of funding earmarked for two key projects targeting the development of the country’s agriculture and fisheries sectors, and an additional $110 million dedicated to the improvement of education quality. This move aligns with the Southeast Asian nation’s vision of transforming its long-neglected farming sector into a dynamic engine of economic growth.

The Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who also presides over the agriculture ministry, has pledged to introduce much-needed reforms to enhance the sector’s productivity. The agricultural sector, despite years of neglect, has still accounted for about a tenth of the nation’s gross domestic product in recent times.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno and World Bank’s Country Director for the Philippines, Ndiamé Diop, officially signed the four loan agreements at the Department of Finance office in Manila on June 26, 2023. These loans aim to support a host of government initiatives that are designed to accelerate economic recovery, strengthen climate resilience, improve the quality of education, and advance the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

Of the total funding, $276 million will aid projects by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR). This includes the Mindanao Inclusive Agriculture Development Project (MIADP) and the Philippine Fisheries and Coastal Resiliency (FishCoRe) Project. The former is set to sustainably elevate agricultural productivity and resiliency, as well as improve market access and services for organised farmers and fisherfolk in selected ancestral domains and selected value chains in Mindanao. In contrast, the FishCoRe project will enhance fisheries management, increase the value of fisheries production, and raise incomes in selected coastal communities.

To bolster the education sector, a $110 million loan agreement was finalised for the Department of Education’s Teacher Effectiveness and Competencies Enhancement Project (TEACEP). This initiative seeks to provide equitable access to quality teaching for students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 in project-supported areas like Regions IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), XII (SOCCSKSARGEN) and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

A significant portion of the loan, $750 million, will serve as budgetary support under the Philippines First Sustainable Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL). This funding will be directed towards the country’s policy reforms that are targeting an enhancement in environmental protection and climate resilience.

In line with the World Bank’s transition towards more streamlined and digitised processes, these loan agreements were signed using DocuSign, a digital signing platform. From July 1, 2023, the World Bank will default to e-signatures for the signing of its financing agreements.

The World Bank-International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) holds the position of being the Philippines’ third-largest official development assistance (ODA) partner, reinforcing the strategic nature of this alliance.

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