WB help eyed in big infra projects

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THE Philippines is studying the possibility of tapping the expertise of the World Bank for the planned rollout of 75 flagship infrastructure projects over the next five years under its “Build, Build, Build” program. 

The Finance Department said Wednesday Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and other government officials would sit down with World Bank representatives to explore the possibility. 

Dominguez, in a recent meeting with World Bank official Otaviano Canuto, said on top of enlisting the World Bank’s support behind the 75 flagship projects, the government also wanted to tap the multilateral institution’s assistance in getting Marawi City back on its feet and in strengthening the infrastructure in the country’s east coast.

“We should rebuild these areas (in Marawi City). People will go back and live there, so the infrastructure should be good and sound. That’s certainly an area where we will need assistance. We welcome your expertise,” Dominguez told Canuto.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III

Canuto, who is the executive director of the executive board of the World Bank Group and its affiliates, said the bank could help in Mindanao, where its experience and expertise “is unmatched,” particularly in the area of education.

Dominguez informed Canuto that the Duterte administration was “determined to close the Philippines’ infrastructure gap,” which will require funding of around $170 billion over the next five years.

“We are coming from a long period when we underinvested in infrastructure as compared to our neighbors,” Dominguez said. “We have announced our major program is to reduce poverty and (one of) the tools to be used is building a lot of infrastructure. There’s a wide open field for your engagement on those areas.”

Canuto said the World Bank could provide assistance in tapping the necessary skills and expertise to help the Philippines improve the design and implementation of its infrastructure program.  

Canuto also commended the Philippine government for spearheading a tax reform program, which, he said “is a template for a lot of countries.”

“It’s very good to highlight what the Philippines is doing in the area of tax reform. We will use what has happened here as an (example) for other countries,” he said.

At a recent business forum at the Hotel Conrad in Pasay City, Dominguez said to begin rebuilding the Philippines’ competitiveness, the government must start by filling the infrastructure backlog and realigning the country’s income tax rates.

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