France loans Philippines P14 billion for infrastructure, financial inclusion

Ralf Rivas
The latest loan agreements will help small entrepreneurs, farmers, and fisherfolk, as well as the Duterte administration's Build, Build, Build program

ECONOMY. Metro Manila skyline. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines signed two agreements with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) worth €250 million or around P14 billion for infrastructure and financial inclusion projects to help the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Finance (DOF) on Monday, June 29, said the Inclusive Finance Development Program (IFD) worth €100 million or P5.6 billion will help fund initiatives of the Philippine government to expand financial services across the country, especially among small entrepreneurs, farmers, fisherfolk, women, and other vulnerable sectors.

Meanwhile, the Expanding Private Participation in Infrastructure Program (EPPIP) worth €150 million or P8.4 billion aims to “heighten private sector participation in infrastructure financing” in line with the government’s Build, Build, Build program. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Why we can’t Build, Build, Build our way out of this pandemic)

This policy-based loan will complement the government’s funding plan to secure financial resources for critical programs, such as the Build, Build, Build, as it grapples with market uncertainties and volatility, as well as increased social expenses and reduced fiscal resources amid the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the DOF said.

The EPPIP program also intends to strengthen the government’s support for public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Both the IFD and the EPPIP will be co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). (READ: What we know so far: Funding the fight vs coronavirus)

“The Philippine government is grateful to the [AFD] for co-financing with the [ADB] two programs supportive of President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s overriding goal of accelerating infrastructure development in order to spur high growth, attract investments, create jobs, and achieve financial inclusion for all Filipinos,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

In addition, AFD will also finance a €1.5-million (P84-million) technical assistance program to accelerate the digital transformation of the country, especially those serving rural communities. The program will be done in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines.

The DOF added that there are discussions to secure additional grants from the European Union‘s Asian Investment Facility for more PPP projects. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.