Seoul’s $1-B loans boosting PHL’s infra buildup, says envoy

MORE than half of the $1 billion worth of concessional loans the South Korean government is extending to the Philippines in the next three years will go to helping the country address its infrastructure constraints, according to Seoul’s top envoy to Manila.

In Photo: South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man gestures as he explains his country’s participation in the infrastructure program of the government during the BusinessMirror Coffee Club.

 

In a roundtable with the BusinessMirror, South Korean Ambassador Han Dong-Man said this will help finance various infrastructure projects in line with the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB).

“The Philippines remains the No. 1 country to invest in. You have more than 100 million people, English-speaking people, and many young people. That’s why infrastructure will bring more of these opportunities,” Han said at a recent session of the BusinessMirror Coffee Club.

South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man (third from left) is seen with D. Edgard A. Cabangon (second from left), chairman of the Aliw Media Group; T. Anthony C. Cabangon (second from right), BusinessMirror publisher; and, from left, Engr. Feorelio Bote, Britney Kang and Atty. Tirso Peralta, Planbank director, after the latest edition of the BM Coffee Club Forum in Makati City.

Over half a billion dollar of these loans will be used to finance two airports, one of which is the new Dumaguete airport. The Korean government will also extend soft loans for the Panguil Bay bridge, irrigation and Samar hospital projects.

Apart from the loans, the South Korean government is also extending $21 million to $25 million worth of grant financing to the Philippine government, Han said.

These are in keeping with the long history of cooperation between South Korea and the Philippines. When Supertyphoon Yolanda struck Tacloban, Leyte, Han said the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) financed the $4-million construction of the new Visayas State University.

Han added that around 500 South Korean soldiers were sent to the Philippines to help during the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the province, as he noted his country’s debt to Filipinos who helped it during the Korean War.

Invest, invest, invest

The ambassador said he also encourages South Korean businessmen to participate in public-private partnerships (PPPs) together with local businessmen and the government.

“Whenever I meet [South] Korean businessmen, I ask them to ‘Invest, Invest, Invest’ in the Philippines in accordance with President Duterte’s Build, Build, Build,” Han said.

Han said the development of South Korea followed a similar path as that of the Philippines. Between the 1960s and 1980s, with World Bank assistance, South Korea invested heavily in infrastructure.

It invested in highways and airports, including the Incheon airport, which is considered one of, if not the best, airports in the world today.

“Infrastructure is very important [

to pave the] road to prosperity,” Han said.

ODA source

As of December 2017, data from the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) listed South Korea as the country’s sixth-largest source of official development assistance (ODA).

It extended a total ODA of $570.60 million—of which $480.74 million are in concessional loans and $89.86 million in grants.

In 2017 the Philippines received a total ODA of $15.45 billion. This is composed of $13.03-billion ODA loans and $2.42-billion grants.

Image Credits: Nonie Reyes, Rudy Esperas

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A professional journalist for over a decade, Cai U. Ordinario currently writes macroeconomic and urban development stories for BusinessMirror. She has received awards for excellence in reporting on the macroeconomy and statistics. She was also cited for her contribution to statics reporting by the National Statistical Coordination Board (now the Philippine Statistics Authority). She is a recipient of journalism fellowships including the Jefferson Fellowship from the Honolulu-based East West Center. She is currently completing her Masters degree in Communication at the University of the Philippines. She graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts Major in Journalism from the University of Santo Tomas.

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