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ADB to fund technical assistance for three PHL transport projects

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The Asian Development Bank is preparing $5 million worth of technical assistance grants for transport projects in Southeast Asia. -- PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

THE ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) is preparing $5 million worth of technical assistance grants for transport projects in Southeast Asia, with the Philippines getting funding for three projects.

The ADB approved the Southeast Asia Transport Project Preparatory Facility on Nov. 16, which provides technical assistance grants for eight infrastructure projects across the region.

The Philippines will obtain assistance for three projects: the Bataan-Cavite Bridge Project, the Laguna Lakeside Road Project, and the Manila Mass Rapid Transit Line 4.

“The regional transaction technical assistance (TA) facility will provide project preparation support and capacity building to a series of ensuing transport sector projects in Southeast Asia,” the ADB said.

The fund will also assist Cambodia’s Second Road Network Improvement Project, provide additional support to the Second Northern Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Transport Network Improvement Project in Laos; and Thailand’s Bangkok Urban Transport Development — West Orange Line, Regional Airports Improvement Project, and Tak Mae Sot Road Tunnel Project.

“The Vision 2030 of the Southeast Asia Department’s aims for ADB to become the go-to partner in Southeast Asia by improving the efficiency of delivery mechanisms, providing innovative finance and knowledge solutions,” the ADB said.

ADB’s pipeline for transport projects for the next three years includes 27 new loan and periodic financing request approvals worth $7.2 billion and over $12 billion on a facility basis, which will add to the existing 55 loans and grants worth $5.3 billion.

“The pipeline is on one side expanding into new subsectors such as railways, road tunnels and air transport in Thailand and large bridges and railway infrastructure investments in the Philippines. On the other hand, more traditional road projects in Cambodia and Lao PDR shall increase in size of the project for better relevance of ADB’s investment and reduced transaction cost,” the bank said.

The ADB’s country partnership strategy has set aside $7.8 billion for lending in 2018-2021, after more than the $5 billion worth of loans approved in 2011-2017. Some 47% of the current lending pipeline will go to the transport sector, with public sector management taking 21%, and financial sector reforms 13%.

“This significant increase in portfolio size will come together with a reduction of the number of projects financed, hence the individual projects will increase in size and complexity. Therefore, efforts to increase project readiness while preparing these more complex and larger projects must be taken, while at the same time, the portfolio performance needs to be improved.

“This indicates that more emphasis must be drawn on project preparation and project implementation for the significantly increasing portfolio to avoid start-up delays such as often phased-in procurement or safeguards implementation of newly-approved projects,” it added. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan