RP WENT FROM WORST TO 2ND BEST USER OF WORLD BANK AID IN EAST ASIA

Cotabato City, June 14, 2003 (Star) In "one of the fastest turnarounds in World Bank history," the Philippines went from worst to second best in East Asia in utilizing portfolio assistance from the bank.

This was disclosed by World Bank country manager Robert Vance Pulley in a briefing with President Arroyo at the 6th Infantry Division headquarters at the Awang Airport here.

The President was on the fourth stop of an eight-day swing of Mindanao to highlight the Mindanao National Initiative (Mindanao Nation).

Pulley noted that in 2001, when Mrs. Arroyo was swept into power by EDSA II, the Philippines was the "slowest user of WB assistance in the East Asia region."

He underscored that when Mrs. Arroyo came into power, "the disbursement ratio was only 10 percent" which meant that the previous government "would have taken 10 years to utilize all the (WB) aid in the pipeline."

"(President Arroyo) inherited one of the worst performing portfolios in East Asia," Pulley said.

Citing it as "one of the fastest turnarounds in the World Bank," Pulley said that, under the Arroyo administration, the utilization of aid made available by the WB jumped from 10 percent to 22 percent.

Pulley explained that the increase in percentage of utilization meant that projects undertaken with WB aid could now be completed in five or less years compared to the previous administration when projects would have taken 10 years to complete.

Pulley further emphasized that the Philippine performance was only a shade lower than that of China’s 23 percent, considered "the benchmark in East Asia."

The WB executive credited the government’s line agencies led by the departments of agrarian reform, agriculture, education, public works and highways and social welfare and development for "fixing problems quickly and clearing away bottlenecks."

"(The 22-percent disbursement ratio) is a testimony to the efforts of all these line agencies and a testimony to the leadership of the President," Pulley said.

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao alone, Pulley said the WB has a total of $33 million earmarked in various projects that include farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities and irrigation.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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