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Duterte pushes for stronger collaboration with ADB on massive infra program

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has pushed for enhanced collaboration between the Philippine government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in advancing the country’s development, particularly in its massive infrastructure program.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with Asian Development Bank President Masatsugu Asakawa who paid a courtesy call on the President at the Department of Finance Building inside the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex in Manila on February 24, 2020. (ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with Asian Development Bank President Masatsugu Asakawa who paid a courtesy call on the President at the Department of Finance Building inside the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex in Manila on February 24, 2020. (ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The President met with ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa and other bank officials at the Department of Finance on Monday and sought greater support for the country’s growth and development goals.

“I would like to express my appreciation to ADB for its unremitting assistance to the Philippines,” Duterte told the newly elected ADB president. “We look forward to ADB’s enhanced support to our Build, Build, Build Program,” he added.

According to the Palace, the President expressed the country’s interest in further strengthening the “valued partnership” with ADB in various areas of cooperation.

“As the government embarks on an ambitious infrastructure development initiative, President Duterte wants ADB’s aggressive participation,” the Palace said.

Duterte also cited that Asakawa’s vision for ADB is in line with the administration’s strategy on boosting infrastructure spending, human capital development, and economic growth.

“President Duterte also asked the bank’s assistance to improve the capacity of the government to undertake public-private partnership (PPP) projects with increased private sector participation,” the Palace said.

Asakawa, Japan’s former vice finance minister for international affairs, was unanimously elected as ADB president last January. He is the ADB’s 10th president since the bank was established in 1966.

Asakawa replaced Takehiko Nakao, who led the bank since 2013.

Based on an article posted on the ADB website, Asakawa offered full support for the Philippines’ “proactive development agenda” during his first meeting with Duterte.

He likewise thanked Duterte for the government’s “first-ever contribution to the Asian Development Fund, which provides grants to ADB’s lower-income developing member countries in Asia and the Pacific to reduce poverty and improve people’s quality of life.”

“ADB is committed to supporting the government’s effort to reduce poverty and create high quality jobs for Filipinos by building a competitive economy and caring society,” Asakawa said in the dinner hosted by the government.

The ADB intends to lend the Philippines a record high of $3.3 billion this year, with about half supporting the government’s infrastructure projects, according to the website. The projects include South Commuter Railway, the EDSA Greenways Pedestrian Walkways, and the Angat Water Transmission Aqueduct 7, as well as initiatives to boost social protection, sustainable tourism, and capital market development.

The bank delegation that visited the Palace included ADB Vice President Ahmed Saeed, Executive Director Paul Dominguez, Director General Ramesh Subramaniam, Senior Advisor Yoichiro Ikeda, and Country Director Kelly Bird.

Among the government officials present were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, National Economic and Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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