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Philippine officials off to Beijing for dev’t funding

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Tiananmen Square
A police (R) and two paramilitary police officers take position near Tiananmen Square in Beijing on March 27, 2018. -- AFP

A HIGH-LEVEL Philippine delegation will visit Beijing this week to ink bilateral deals on China-funded infrastructure projects, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement over the weekend.

“The high-level meetings will focus on strengthening and enhancing our bilateral engagement and cooperation. We express the hope that a number of bilateral documents would be presented and signed during the meeting, among them the exchange of letters for the feasibility study of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridges Project,” the press statement read.

The meetings, set on Aug. 22-24, will “discuss the progress of the ‘first basket’ of projects for Chinese loan financing,” which include 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 other projects funded by grants.

It will also discuss the proposed “second basket” of works up for China loans like 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.

Both countries have so far sealed the loan agreement for the partial P3.69-billion funding of the P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, with an interest rate of two percent per annum with a maturity period of 20 years, inclusive of a seven-year grace period. Work, which began last month, is being undertaken by China CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd., which will install electric motor-driven pumps, construct pumping stations and irrigation canals and related facilities for barangays in Cagayan and Kalinga.

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Manila and Beijing have also signed grant agreements worth a total of P4.13 billion for the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges, now under construction; the conduct of feasibility study for the Davao City Expressway Project; provision of radio and broadcasting equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office, and the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technical Cooperation Program Phase 3.

The DoF said that the delegation will be led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, along with Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar; Vivencio B. Dizon, president and chief executive officer of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano. Scheduled to meet them are State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, China International Development Cooperation Agency Director Wang Xiaotao, Export-Import Bank of China Chairperson Hu Xiaolian and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President Jin Liqun. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan

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