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Philippines’ ODA portfolio hits $30B

JAPAN remained the country’s top source of official development assistance (ODA) in 2020. The rehabilitation of the Porac-Gumain River Irrigation System is one of the projects funded by Japan ODA. — JAPAN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AGENCY

THE COUNTRY’S active official development assistance (ODA) portfolio jumped by 42% to $30.39 billion (P1.52 trillion) in 2020 as the government tapped more quick-disbursing loans to fund its pandemic response, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported.

Preliminary data from NEDA obtained by BusinessWorld showed the foreign aid portfolio consisted of $29.004 billion in loans from development partners and $1.688 billion in grants.

The number of programs and projects supported by ODA went up 1.4% to 357 in 2020, comprised of 106 active loan agreements and 251 active grants.

The Philippines has ramped up its foreign borrowings to finance its pandemic response.

“The unprecedented challenges brought by the pandemic prompted a shift in sourcing and utilizing ODA financing in the new normal, from project-specific to quick-disbursing program loans,” NEDA said on Tuesday.

ODAs are concessional financing that multilateral banks and other institutions provide to poorer countries to promote economic development.

Japan remained the country’s top source of ODA in 2020, with a total portfolio of $11.18 billion, up 31% from the $8.5 billion as of end-2019. This comprised of $11.11 billion in loans and $74.67 million in grants.

Japan ODA accounted for 36.44% of the Philippines’ total foreign aid portfolio, but a tad lower than its 39.4% share in 2019.

The second-biggest lender was still the Asian Development Bank (ADB), after extending $8.75 billion in ODA in 2020, up 53.5% from $5.7 billion in 2019. This accounted for 28.5% of the total portfolio, improving from its 26.4% share previously.

The World Bank extended $6.44 billion in foreign aid, up 49% from its $4.31 billion total in 2019.

China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) jumped to fourth spot in 2020 from ninth place in 2019, after extending a $750-million loan for the government’s pandemic response.

AIIB’s total ODA more than quadrupled to $957.6 million in 2020 from $207.6 million in 2019.

South Korea extended $809.9 million in loans and grants, while China gave $620.7 million worth of foreign aid.

The United States was the seventh-biggest provider of ODA with $555.8 million in 2020, followed by France ($452.8 million); United Nations ($362.43 million); European Union ($233.7 million); and Australia ($176.8 million).

NEDA reported the government’s utilization of ODAs — or actual spending relative to target — went up to 66.69% in 2020 from 64.28% in 2019.

Total number of ongoing project loans also increased to 76 in 2020 from 67 the year before. — Beatrice M. Laforga