Annual Meetings signage greets participants and staff members at the International Monetary Fund-World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, Oct. 11. — WORLD BANK/ SIMONE MCCOURTIE

THE WORLD BANK Group (WBG) is ready to increase its support for the Philippines, especially in agriculture, education, tourism, water and energy.

WBG President David Malpass on Tuesday met with Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meetings in Washington, DC.

“President Malpass affirmed to Secretary Diokno the WBG’s readiness to increase support to the Philippines — particularly in the areas of agriculture, tourism, water, energy, and education — and was glad to hear Secretary Diokno’s thoughts on priority projects for fiscal year 2024,” the multilateral lender said in a readout from the meeting posted on the World Bank’s website.

As of March, the World Bank was the Philippines’ third-largest source of official development assistance, with loans and grants representing 23.38% of the total.

The World Bank is currently supporting 15 ongoing programs and projects worth $4.96 billion, in areas like transport, rural development, disaster risk reduction and management, social protection, Customs modernization, and COVID-19 response.

During the meeting, Mr. Malpass also stressed the importance of the continuation of tax reforms in the Philippines, and discussed the economy’s growth outlook and vulnerabilities with Mr. Diokno.

“President Malpass noted the importance of the Philippine’s continuation of tax reform efforts and work to broaden the tax base and affirmed the WBG’s readiness to support further work on domestic revenue mobilization, including the digitalization of the tax system to increase compliance,” it said.

Mr. Diokno previously said he will focus on digitalizing tax administration, leveraging technology to improve tax collections.

The World Bank upgraded its growth forecast for the Philippines for this year and 2023, citing an “accommodative” fiscal policy conducive to recovering domestic demand.

The World Bank projects the Philippine economy will grow by 5.8% in 2023, from 5.6% previously, but still below the government’s 6.5-8% assumption for next year. — KBT