ASIAN DEVPT BANK REVISES LOAN PROGRAM FOR RP, HALF TO NEW PROJECTS

MANILA,  February 17, 2004 (BULLETIN) By EDU H. LOPEZ - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has revised the three-year programmed loan for the Philippines until 2006 compared with the previous program.

More than half of the 15 loans amounting to $712 million included in the pipeline are newly-proposed projects, reflecting ADB’s flexibility to the changing priority needs of the government.

ADB, however, said that the "new" loans are a product of continued dialogue, involvement and economic and sector work, supported under the ongoing loans or technical assistance.

The bank noted that in many cases, the three-year horizon of a country strategy and program update (CSPU) is not long enough to bridge the "absorbency gap" between sequential operations in one agency or sector.

Specifically, the projects are rural roads development, judicial reform, irrigation, and Mindanao airports development program.

The microfinance for rural development project previously programmed for 2003 was carried over to 2004, pending the results of the People’s Credit and Finance Corporation’s privatization study and a detailed demand assessment.

ADB said the processing of the proposed small and medium enterprise (SME) finance program has been accelerated to 2004.

The bank has deferred the proposed Metro Manila urban services for the poor project and the Mindanao basic education program to 2005.

As a result of the pilot ‘two-step’ loan for 2004, the main investment loan for the proposed rural road development project is scheduled for 2006, said ADB.

ADB’s non-lending program for the Philippines this year amounted to $3.7 million including the three advisory technical assistance and four preparatory programs.

To allow more lead-time for a firmer evaluation by the new government after the middle of 2004, the 2005 and 2006 non-lending program has been kept open and only includes two technical assistance programs amounting to $1.7 million.

As a frequent participant in ADB’s regional technical assistance, the Philippines will benefit from the continued knowledge transfer activities, said ADB.

The bank said that if a peace agreement is signed between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), ADB has indicated to provide resources to support its rapid implementation.

The Philippines is ADB’s fifth largest borrower which comprised eight percent of the bank’s cumulative lending. The active portion of 37 public sector loans amounting to $1.6 billion is the seventh largest under the administration.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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