The government on Wednesday signed a $500-million (P25-billion) loan agreement with the World Bank that aims to support ongoing efforts to ease the social and economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak on poor households and workers of micro, small and medium enterprises.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the swift approval of the agreement for the Philippines’ Emergency COVID-19 Response Development Policy Loan underlined the strong confidence of the international community in the government’s capability to meet the massive funding needed to save lives and provide immediate relief to Filipinos affected by the global health crisis.
Dominguez and Achim Fock, the World Bank acting country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, signed the agreement for the loan.
“This is the third loan accord that we have signed with the World Bank that is designed to assist us in swiftly responding to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 emergency. The World Bank has always been our reliable partner in strengthening our country’s economic resilience,” Dominguez said.
“We once again thank the World Bank for its prompt action on this financial support package that will help us to promptly provide relief to poor and low-income households and employees of MSMEs who lack the means to fend for themselves during the lockdowns implemented nationwide to contain the spread of COVID-19,” he added.
Fock said the new financing could help ensure the timely delivery of financial support for struggling families and communities while the country expands efforts to contain the pandemic and reduce its economic impact.
Dominguez said the ECRDPL replaced the earlier proposed additional financing for a project that aims to support the government’s goals of promoting competitiveness, enhancing fiscal sustainability and
strengthening financial resilience to natural disasters and climate change.
The ECRDPL will have the same terms and conditions as the initially proposed Promoting Competitiveness and Enhancing Resilience to Natural Disasters Subprogram 1, which it replaced.
Dominguez said “the change is in view of World Bank’s advice to specifically come up with a new development policy loan on the country’s COVID-19 response instead of a supplemental financing package for the Promoting Competitiveness and Enhancing Resilience to Natural Disasters project.”
The agreement for the ECRDPL will bank on the policy actions accomplished by the government in providing emergency subsidies to poor and other vulnerable households, and wage subsidies to workers in MSMEs affected by the strict quarantine measures imposed by the national and local governments to prevent COVID-19 spread, Dominguez said.
He said the $500-million loan covers a maturity period of 29 years, inclusive of a grace period of 10-and-a-half years, and is targeted for accelerated disbursement by third week of June.