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Philippines, Italy extend debt swap program for two years

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THE GOVERNMENT secured a fresh two-year extension for a debt swap program with Italy which is expected to support seven projects funded through the platform, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in a press statement on Monday.

The DoF said that the Philippines-Italy Debt for Development Program has been extended until 2021, which involves €2.917 million or about P160 million.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven and Italian Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino led the exchange of letters for the two-year extension of the debt swap facility.

Under the deal, a counterpart fund was established by the Italian government that matched the Philippines’ outstanding loans to fund development projects in some of the country’s poorest areas.




DoF noted that Italy identified the Philippines as one of the beneficiaries of the debt conversion program under the European state’s 2011-2013 Programming Guidelines and Directions. The original debt swap agreement was signed May 29, 2012 by the Department of Finance and the Italian Embassy in Manila.

The facility will finance projects geared towards environmental protection and poverty reduction, which are carried out by Philippine or Italian nongovernment organizations, national government agencies and local governments.

Nine projects have been funded by the facility at P10-35 million each.

“To date, two out of the nine projects have already finished implementation, while the remaining seven are being considered to receive continued support with the two-year extension of the program,” the DoF said in its statement.

These two projects are the Tabuk Eco-Spirituality Center Project in Kalinga and the Sustainable Eco-Tourism Project in the Puerto Princesa Underground River Area.

The governments also expect the additional two years for the debt program to generate about 17,000 alternative jobs for farmers and fisherfolk.

This will come from efforts at forest conservation and reforestation, sustainable and integrated agricultural practices, better coastal resource management and more eco-tourism opportunities. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez