The World Bank will lend $1.9 billion in fresh loans to the Philippines this year to support projects that will help the economy bounce back from a global coronavirus pandemic.

The bank’s project pipeline had been changed and the loan agreements were likely to be approved this year, the Department of Finance (DoF) said, citing a letter from the World Bank.

The lending program would be more than double the $750-million commitments made by the multilateral bank to the Philippines last year, the agency said.

The loan will fund government projects that seek to help poor families amid the global health crisis and boost remote learning for students, said Ndiame Diop, the World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

He said it would also cover programs that seek to improve the country’s competitiveness, address supply chain issues and create jobs and livelihood.

“We are committed to support the Philippines’ infrastructure expansion program, which is indeed critical for a solid recovery,” DoF quoted Mr. Diop as saying in his letter.

He said the government must fast-track and streamline the process of approving the projects in the pipeline “given the emergency situation we are in.”

The bank said last month it planned to approve three projects worth $1 billion by September.

As of April, the bank has released $1.2 billion of loans to the Philippines — $500 million for the government’s COVID-19 response, $500 million for disaster risk management and $200 million for social protection.

As of Aug. 5, the government has obtained $8.131 billion of loans, global bonds and grants from foreign sources to fund its pandemic expenses.

It plans to borrow P3 trillion this year from local and external sources to fund its budget gap, which is expected to hit 9.6% of economic output as spending against the pandemic increases and revenue slumps.

The Philippines, which had been one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies before the pandemic, entered into a recession last quarter after the economy shrank by 16.5% amid lockdowns that are one of the strictest and longest in the world. — Beatrice M. Laforga