THE government’s economic team said it does not expect a major impact from the suspension of negotiations for pending aid grants from 18 countries that were critical of the Philippines’ handling of its drug war.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said over the weekend that the suspension of loan and grant negotiations will “not have a significant impact on the country” as a majority of the grants are in the form of technical assistance and suggested that the government’s infrastructure program will remain the economy’s main driver.

“All proposed engagements with said countries… are technical assistance grants and hence will not significantly affect the infrastructure program of the government,” Mr. Dominguez told reporters in a phone message over the weekend.

In case of a funding gap, Mr. Dominguez said other sources can be tapped, like multilateral development banks. Bilateral partners have also “signified their intention to finance” projects.

“The rates offered by said countries (if ever) are no better than the rates already offered by multilateral development financial institutions and bilateral development partners,” he added.

Mr. Dominguez said current grants include $228.89 million from Austria, $4.71 million from Italy and $570,000 from Spain, which will not be affected.

The Office of the President issued a memorandum ordering the suspension of all talks for grant agreements from the 18 countries that supported a United Nations Human Rights Commission investigation into the Philippine drug war.

In an order dated Aug. 27 and signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, President Rodrigo R. Duterte instructed government agencies and firms to halt negotiations on pending loans and grants from the 18 countries.

“All concerned officials are DIRECTED to suspend negotiations for and signing of loans and grant agreements with the governments of the countries that co-sponsored and/or voted in favor,” according to the document.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia believes the suspension will not affect infrastructure projects but confirmed that “some ODA” (Official Development Assistance) grants could be hit.

The 18 countries that supported the UNHRC investigation were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. — Beatrice M. Laforga