PHILIPPINE and Chinese officials are set to meet in Beijing this week to continue discussions on ways to address the challenges in the preparation and implementation of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) infrastructure projects that China has committed to support through official development assistance (ODA) loans and grants.
The Department of Finance (DOF) said the meetings set from August 22 to 24 will include updates on the progress of the “first basket” of infrastructure projects for Chinese loan financing: the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the Philippine National Railways’s South Long Haul Project and the Davao-Samal Bridge Construction Project, along with the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges that are being funded with grants from China.
“The high-level meetings will focus on strengthening and enhancing our bilateral engagement and cooperation. We express the hope that a number of bilateral documents would be presented and signed during the meeting, among them the exchange of letters for the feasibility study of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridges Project,” the DOF said.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and the other members of the delegation are set to meet with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan; Director Wang Xiaotao of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA); Chairman Hu Xiaolian of the Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM); and Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The delegation is also set to pay a courtesy call on Vice Premier of Economic Cooperation Hu Chunhua during their three-day visit.
According to the DOF, the “second basket” of infrastructure projects are also up for discussion: the Ambal-Simuay River and Rio Grande de Mindanao River Flood Control Projects, the Pasig-Marikina River and Manggahan Floodway Bridges Construction Project, the Subic-Clark Railway Project, the Safe Philippines Project Phase I and the Rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plants Project.
Aside from the finance chief, the Philippine delegation to China will also include Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Socioeonomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar; and Vivencio B. Dizon, president-CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano is also expected to join the Philippine delegation.
In July the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridge projects across the Pasig River broke ground, with both bridges expected to ease traffic in Manila’s heavily congested areas where major commercial hubs thrive.
In April this year, Dominguez and Chinese officials signed a $62-million loan agreement in Hainan, China, to help fund the construction of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, and a separate accord on economic and technical cooperation providing for a $79-million grant for at least four other projects undertaken by the Philippine government in cooperation with China.
Meanwhile, the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation involves a 500 million Renminbi (RMB) grant equivalent to approximately $79 million or P4.13 billion to finance the following projects and activities: the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges in Metro Manila of the Department of Public Works and Highways worth RMB 264.8 million for partial funding; the conduct of feasibility study for the Davao City Expressway Project of the DPWH worth RMB 25.83 million; the provision of radio and broadcasting equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office worth RMB 17.82 million; and the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technical Cooperation Program Phase III of the Department of Agriculture at RMB 27.52 million. The total grant for these four projects amounts to RMB 335.97 million.