THE Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) lending to the Philippines has hit a record $2.6 billion so far this year, exceeding the 2019 level of $2.5 billion.

In a statement Wednesday, the ADB approved a $500-million loan for the government’s conditional cash aid program, known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

“With this loan, ADB’s total lending to the Philippines has reached $2.6 billion so far this year, exceeding its record lending of $2.5 billion in 2019,” it said.

The ADB said the $500-million loan is for the Expanded Social Assistance Project aiming to “help families maintain health and educational gains for their children” under the 4Ps program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“The 4Ps program provides vulnerable households with an income supplement to help their children become educated, stay healthy, and leave poverty for good. Our evidence shows that this is working. The 4Ps program has helped 1.5 million people escape poverty since it began in 2008. Through this project loan and technical assistance support, ADB is helping the Philippines expand these gains,” ADB Vice-President Ahmed M. Saeed was quoted as saying.

The 4Ps program provides cash aid every two months to some 4.3 million families on condition that their children stay in school and submit to regular health checkups, while women must attend pre- and post-natal care sessions and parents participate in family development sessions.

The ADB said it will also extend $3.1 million worth of technical assistance to enhance the development sessions, to update the list of eligible families and provide a livelihood package that will help 3,000 families emerge from poverty.

The technical assistance will also help in information technology reforms that will “automate compliance verification and grievance redress” and assist in integrating the 4Ps database with the government’s national ID system.

The ADB said its total assistance to the 4Ps program has amounted to over $1.5 billion so far.

Other loans the ADB approved for the Philippines this year include $1.7 billion approved in April to help the government respond to the pandemic and a $400-million loan for capital market development in June. — Beatrice M. Laforga