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Philippines seeks $750-M COVID-19 loan from AIIB

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REUTERS

THE Philippines has applied for a $750-million facility from China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to help fund the coronavirus pandemic 2019 (COVID-19) containment effort, with the application expected to be acted on by mid-May.

According to a statement Monday from the Beijing-based bank, the Philippine government has asked the AIIB for $750 million to cofinance its COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program, alongside the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“The program will provide critically needed support to help the Government of the Philippines mitigate the severe health, social, and economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” AIIB said.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven, who also heads the department’s International Finance Group (IFG), told BusinessWorld that the AIIB is expected to decide on the loan in mid-May.

“AIIB will deliberate mid-May, I think,” Mr. Joven said in a mobile phone message Wednesday.

He added that the government does not have plans for a second tranche of COVID-19 funding support from the AIIB, “unless the need arises.”

The funds will be sourced from AIIB’s $5-10 billion COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility.

AIIB said it expects the COVID-19 response program to increase the country’s testing capacity to 8,000 per day by next month, reduce the average turn-around time for tests to 48 hours or less by July and have all health care workers and COVID-19 patients be covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation by July.

On Tuesday, the government signed a $100-million loan agreement for the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project with the World Bank as well as a new $200-million loan from the Asian Development Bank for the Social Protection Support Project.

The Philippines has also tapped the World Bank for a $500-million loan to fund its pandemic response programs, on top of the $500-million (P25.4 billion) Third Risk Management Development Policy Loan approved earlier this month.

The ADB has likewise approved a $1.5-billion loan to supplement the government’s funds as it seeks to contain the outbreak.

The Department of Finance has said it hopes to tap $5.7 billion worth of financial assistance from multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and ADB. — Beatrice M. Laforga





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