THE GOOD NEWS: ODA DISBURSEMENT UP BY 28% ON FIRST HALF OF 2003

MANILA, December 9, 2003  (STAR) Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds are important in pump-priming the economy. Such funds are used by the government for infrastructure projects and crucial socio-economic programs for the poor.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, through good and transparent governance and sound fiscal policies, has enabled the Philippines to avail more ODA funds than ever before.

The country’s increased absorptive capacity of the credits and grants of ODA has enabled it to stay away from excessive loan assistance to be used to pump-prime the economy.

The government’s disbursement of ODA funds for the first half of the year improved to $618 million, or a 28-percent increase from the $485 million released in the same period last year.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that disbursements from the three major funding agencies -- Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Asian Development Bank and the World Bank -- hit $565 million, exceeding the $458 million target.

World Bank-assisted projects posted the highest increase in disbursement level at 31 percent with $105 million from last year’s $80 million.

Government-owned and-controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) disbursed $302 million, a 39 percent increase while national government agencies disbursed $264 million accounting, or a 10 percent increase.

Moreover, non-budgeted dependent projects also improved their performance with a 54-percent rise in actual disbursement. The NEDA also said that a three percent increase was recorded in disbursement for budget-dependent projects.

With the government’s prudent allocation of ODA funds, the NEDA has recommended that the government focus on improving the performance of ADB-assisted projects.

It was noted that while ADB and WB have almost the same loan exposure (ADB with $1.6 billion and WB with $1.4 billion), ADB disbursement is only 43 percent of WB disbursement for the first half of the year.

The NEDA also urged the GOCCs and GFIs to sustain the improvement of their level of disbursement since they are not constrained by the national government budget.

The Macapagal-Arroyo administration’s improved monitoring of projects and transparent process of procurement has ensured better infrastructure delivery and capability building programs financed by ODA funds, which translated the strong economic growth of the Philippines.

In the latest World Bank report on the Philippines, Robert Vance Pulley, Country Director of the World Bank Philippines, noted "the country is understandably proud of its continued achievement of reasonable economic growth of about four percent in the first half of 2003 in spite of adverse global development, sporadic conflicts in Mindanao, political uncertainty and investor concerns regarding fiscal sustainability."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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