THE PHILIPPINES is preparing a pipeline of projects ahead of a possible Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) aid package even as negotiations have yet to start.
“We hired a consultant to put already a package of projects,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters last week.
If a possible offer would surface, Mr. Dominguez said the government will pitch infrastructure projects for eastern Luzon.
Mr. Dominguez said earlier that he had met with MCC officials on a possible aid package. “They ask us what are your priorities, these are our priorities, so they say why, at least we have a study.”
“The MCC already started a project in the east coast of the Philippines. So I said why don’t we study the possibility of putting good developments in the east coast of Luzon for infrastructure. That needs a lot of development,” he said.
Mr. Dominguez hinted of a possible port on the Philippine Rise where research vessels may operate.
“But the major projects we want are the infra. We are just preparing. If they approve it then we can hit the ground running, if they cannot approve it, then we have something in the pipeline that we can finance elsewhere,” he said.
Last August, MCC deemed the Philippines eligible to be a recipient of a compact in 2018. The first compact was a five-year grant that ended in May last year, which amounted to $433.08 million.
This was “aimed to reduce transportation costs through road rehabilitation, expand the fiscal space through improved tax collection efforts, and empower communities by investing in small-scale, community-driven development projects,” according to the MCC’s Web site.
In 2006, the MCC awarded the Philippines with a threshold program — a relatively smaller grant amounting to $20.69 million.
To be eligible for a grant from the Washington-based aid agency, a country “must demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people and economic freedom.”
In its latest country scorecard, the Philippines passed 13 of 20 indicators set by MCC, including civil liberties, rule of law, and government effectiveness. — E.J.C. Tubayan