THE ASIAN Development Bank’s (ADB) funding commitments for the Philippines reached $4.57 billion in 2019, second highest among the bank’s developing member countries (DMCs) in Asia and the Pacific.

According to ADB’s Annual Report 2019 published Monday, ADB’s commitments to the country last year was the second largest across the region, following the $5.68 billion for India and ahead of Pakistan’s $3.192 billion.

Broken down, ADB’s loans, grants and other financing approved for the Philippines totaled $2.553 billion, technical assistance stood at $2.3 million, project cofinancing amounted to $2.011 billion while technical assistance cofinancing was at $3 million.

The ADB has said it is planning to extend $2.5 to $3 billion to the Philippines until 2022.

The multilateral lender in April said its $3 billion pre-existing lending program for the country this year will push through on top of the $1.5 billion it approved last month to support the government’s response efforts for coronavirus pandemic.

In Asia and the Pacific, in 2019, the Manila-based multilateral lender had a total of $33.74 billion worth of funding commitments to its DMCs, lower than the $35.464 billion it approved in 2018.

Of the total commitments last year, the bulk or $21.64 billion were loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees from the bank’s own resources, with disbursements, “a key indicator of successful project implementation,” hit a record $16.47 billion.

Some $11.86 billion were cofinanced, including trust funds, while the remaining $237 million involve other technical assistance.

“ADB’s private sector operations in 2019 reached the $3-billion mark for the second consecutive year, reflecting plans to expand private sector investments into new sectors and frontier markets,” the ADB said in a statement yesterday.

By region, the Manila-based multilateral lender extended 31% of its commitments to its member countries in South Asia, 30% to Southeast Asia, 24% to Central and West Asia, 12% in East Asia, two percent in the Pacific region, while the rest were labelled regional.

Some 35% of the total commitments last year went to transport projects, 14% to fund public sector management programs, 12% to energy, 10% to agriculture, natural resources and rural development, 10% to finance, six percent to water and other urban infrastructure, five percent to education and three percent each to health; industry and trade; and information and communication technology sector.

“I am encouraged by our efforts in 2019. I am heartened by what we have achieved so far in 2020. We will build on these achievements to ensure we remain relevant and responsive to our members’ needs as they take action to combat and recover from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa was quoted as saying.

Across Southeast Asia, ADB committed a total of $5.26 billion in 2019, disbursed $1.63 billion, cofinanced $2.88 billion worth of projects and extended technical assistance worth $35.6 million.

Some 34% of the total commitments last year went to finance transport projects, 26% to fund public sector management programs, 14% for finance, nine percent for education sector and eight percent on agriculture and rural development.

“ADB is helping its DMCs in Southeast Asia reduce poverty, expand access to employment and other economic opportunities, and deliver the education and skills training needed to help the disadvantaged acquire better jobs,” it said.

The ADB noted that countries in the region should invest around $184 billion per year on infrastructure to “support inclusive and sustainable growth.”

“ADB devotes more than half of its portfolio for Southeast Asia to infrastructure development (transport, energy, water and urban services, and agriculture and natural resources). By doing so, it is providing significant support for improved economic productivity and resilience to climate change in the region’s DMCs.” — Beatrice M. Laforga