Budget chief bares more China loans in the pipeline

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Rodrigo Duterte & Xi Jinping
AFP

THE GOVERNMENT expects to ink about 10 loan agreements for infrastructure projects with China during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit here in November.

“Some have already started, the rest they are reserving it for November when President Xi Jinping comes here. That was the plan,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

Pressed for details, Mr. Diokno said that “at least 10” loan agreements “from the two baskets” of projects will be signed by the Philippines and China.

The first basket of projects includes the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the Philippine National Railways’ South Long Haul Project and the Davao-Samal Bridge Construction Project, as well as others funded by grants.

The second basket consists of the Ambal-Simuay River and Rio Grande de Mindanao River Flood Control Projects, Pasig-Marikina River and Manggahan Floodway Bridges Construction Project, Subic-Clark Railway Project, Safe Philippines Project Phase 1 and the Rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plants Project.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte last met Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the Boao forum in China’s Hainan province in April, where they sealed the first loan agreement for a partial P3.69-billion funding of the P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project with an interest rate of two percent per annum and a 20-year maturity period, inclusive of a seven-year grace period.

Both countries also inked grant agreements worth a total of P4.13 billion for the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges, a feasibility study for the Davao City Expressway Project, provision of radio and broadcasting equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the third phase of the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technical Cooperation Program.

Mr. Diokno joined other economic managers in China last week to discuss the progress of projects.

One problem, he noted, involves the choice of Chinese contractors. “There are too many contractors: how could you choose… three out of a thousand contractors. To me, that is the main hurdle. They will do the vetting then we will choose through our procurement law,” said Mr. Diokno.

Mr. Duterte secured from China a pledge for $9-billion official development assistance in late 2016 shortly after he took office. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan





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