The Duterte administration is open to discussion on the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s fresh offer of greater financial assistance to the Philippines in a show of strong support to its new government.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III made the statement over the weekend after ADB president Takehiko Nakao met with Dominguez and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia in Makati City and relayed the bank’s “strong support” to the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In an official statement released by the ADB after Nakao’s courtesy call on two of President Duterte’s economic managers, the bank disclosed that it is “ready to increase assistance further based on discussion with the new administration.”
In response, Dominguez said the Duterte administration is “certainly open to discussions on the higher level of assistance being offered by the ADB to put the 10-point socioeconomic agenda on the fast track.”
“The ADB has certainly not failed us in the past, judging from its almost a half-century of development partnership with our country from the time it first extended aid for agricultural and rural development in Mindanao in 1969,” Dominguez said.
“On behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we thank the ADB, through its President Takehiko Nakao, for its commitment of full support to the new Philippine Government and its 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda for sustained high and inclusive growth,” he said.
“We believe the ADB’s full backing would go a long way in helping President Duterte deliver on his electoral mandate to bring progress to all Filipinos,” he added.
Dominguez said the strengthened partnership between the ADB and the Duterte administration will focus on “key areas that the 10-point agenda itself aims to harness to enable our people to truly benefit from a strong economy that the ADB projects to grow beyond 6% in 2017.”
“These ADB priority areas, ranging from infrastructure, agricultural and regional development to employment, education and social protection, are the very same concerns that the new government aims to address by raising beyond the norm our public investments in human and physical capital,” he said.
In the ADB statement, Nakao was quoted as saying that the recent strong growth of the Philippines “provides a foundation for further sustainable growth to fully realize this country’s enormous potential.”
“Our support will be tailored to the government’s socio-economic and poverty reduction priorities, and to the country’s middle-income status. We are looking forward to further discussions on how we can best support the country,” Nakao said.
He also commended “Duterte’s administration’s aim of spreading the benefits of strong growth. “The Philippines can harness its vast potential by tapping its young and educated population in pursuit of higher productivity and job creation, especially in such areas as small- and medium-enterprises, tourism and agri-business,” he said.
“Based on the government’s prospective development plans, ADB is prepared to support areas such as (i) accelerating infrastructure development with special attention to the role of public-private partnerships; (ii) rural and value chain development in agriculture; (iii) improving human capital investment including health and education; and (iv) social protection through conditional cash transfers,” he added.
Nakao also reiterated ADB’s commitment to supporting the government’s efforts to bring lasting peace and development to Mindanao. “ADB is actively working with local authorities to prepare the Mindanao Development Program, and on various projects to develop road infrastructure,” he said.