Philip­pines eyes Chi­nese grants to help meet tar­get on poverty re­duc­tion

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

THE Philip­pines is eye­ing grant as­sis­tance from China to help re­duce its poverty rate to 14 per­cent by the time Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte ends his term in 2022, a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said Wed­nes­day.

Liza Maza, head of the Na­tional Anti-poverty Com­mis­sion, told re­porters at the start of the 12th ASEANCHINA Fo­rum on So­cial Devel­op­ment and Poverty Re­duc­tion, be­ing held in Manila through Friday, that China has been as­sess­ing the poverty sit­u­a­tion in the Philip­pines since last year.

She said Chi­nese ex­perts have been sent to poor com­mu­ni­ties in the cap­i­tal Manila and else­where on the main is­land of Lu­zon to assess where China should di­rect its aid.

The an­tic­i­pated as­sis­tance is ex­pected to ma­te­ri­alise this year, with a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing to be signed when Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping vis­its the Philip­pines, pos­si­bly in Novem­ber af­ter an Asia-pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion sum­mit in Pa­pua New Guinea.

Stress­ing the im­por­tance of aid qual­ity, Maza said the Philip­pines es­pe­cially de­sires trans­fer of knowl­edge and tech­nol­ogy from bene­fac­tors like China.

She said the Chi­nese are clearly keen to as­sist other coun­tries, be­ing “very proud of the fact that they have lifted 700 mil­lion from poverty” in their own coun­try.

Last year, Maza led a del­e­ga­tion to Hainan province for a study-tour to learn about China’s poverty re­duc­tion ex­pe­ri­ences.

Poverty re­mains per­sis­tently high in the Philip­pines, which has the high­est pop­u­la­tion growth rate in South­east Asia.

Ac­cord­ing to avail­able fig­ures, the na­tional poverty rate fell from 25.2pc of the pop­u­la­tion in 2012 to 21.6pc in 2015, trans­lat­ing into 21.9 mil­lion poor peo­ple.

Since com­ing to power two years ago, Duterte has piv­oted to China de­spite lin­ger­ing ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes be­tween the two coun­tries in the South China Sea, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the ben­e­fits of com­radery with the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy.

The Philip­pines has since gar­nered bil­lions of dol­lars in soft loans and grants, and tens of bil­lions more in in­vest­ment and aid pledges, sup­port­ing, among other things, the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s mega-in­fra­struc­ture pro­gramme called “Build, Build, Build.” – Ky­odo

Res­i­dents are seen at a shan­ty­town in Manila, Philip­pines, on May 3. Photo: EPA

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