Philippine Daily Inquirer - - BUSINESS - By Ben O. de Vera @ben­de­v­er­aINQ

A to­tal of $7.34 bil­lion in loans and grants have al­ready been com­mit­ted by China to fi­nance not only the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s am­bi­tious in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram but also the re­con­struc­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Marawi City, the Depart­ment of Fi­nance said yes­ter­day.

In a state­ment, the DOF said that to date, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s pledges for loans to the Philip­pines’ in­fra­struc­ture, power and pub­lic safety sec­tors amounted to $7.19 bil­lion.

“Of the $7.19 bil­lion, about $3.98 bil­lion—rep­re­sent­ing the es­ti­mated loan amount of the sec­ond bas­ket [of projects to be fi- nanced by China] un­der var­i­ous stages of prepa­ra­tion—will still be fur­ther discussed and pro­cessed by both sides,” the DOF­ex­plained.

The loans were on top of $148.22 mil­lion in grants, a part of which will be spent to re­con­struct as well as re­ha­bil­i­tate wartorn Marawi, the DOF added.

The com­bined grants and­loans will sup­port 10 big-ticket projects, the con­struc­tion of two bridges cross­ing Pasig River as well as two dru­gre­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties in­Min­danao, ac­cord­ing to theDOF.

“The as­sumed loan amount pledged by China ac­counts for 85 per­cent of the to­tal cost for 10 projects. These cover soft loans un­der the first bas­ket of projects that in­clude $234.92 mil­lion for the Kaliwa-New Cen­ten­nial Wa- ter Source in Que­zon prov­ince; $72.49 mil­lion for the Chico River Pump Ir­ri­ga­tion Project in North Lu­zon, and the $2.91-bil­lion Philip­pine National Rail­ways South Long Haul Rail­way—or a to­tal es­ti­mated loan amount of $3.21 bil­lion,” the DOF said, cit­ing a re­port of its international fi­nance group.

“For the sec­ond bas­ket of projects, the Philip­pines and China agreed to line up an es­ti­mated to­tal of $3.98 bil­lion in loans that might in­clude $947.64 mil­lion for the Su­bic-Clark Rail­way and $424.81 mil­lion for the Davao City Ex­press­way,” the DOF said, not­ing that most of these projects were still in the fea­si­bil­ity study stages, hence have pre­lim­i­nary

project costs.

Ac­cord­ing to the DOF, “the agree­ments for sev­eral of these projects are set to be signed be­tween of­fi­cials of the two gov­ern­ments dur­ing the Philip­pinesChina bi­lat­eral meet­ings to be held on the side­lines of the Asean+3 (China, Ja­pan and South Korea) Sum­mit this week.”

Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang would rep­re­sent Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping dur­ing the Asean Sum­mit and re­lated meet­ings and was ex­pected to wit­ness the sign­ing of the bi­lat­eral agree­ments, the DOF noted.

The bulk of the grants from China amount­ing to $99.27 mil­lion will be used to build the Bi­nondo-In­tra­muros and Estrella- Pan­ta­leon bridges.

“The grant amount, which cov­ers 100 per­cent of the to­tal cost for the projects, also in­cludes $22.95 mil­lion for the con­struc­tion of two drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties; $23 mil­lion to aid in Marawi’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram, and do­na­tion of heavy equip­ment worth $3 mil­lion also for the gov­ern­ment’s re­con­struc­tion ef­forts in Marawi,” ac­cord­ing to the DOF.

“The record in­flows of grants and soft loans from China are among the fruits of Pres­i­dent Duterte’s for­eign pol­icy re­bal­anc­ing geared to­ward ac­cel­er­ated in­te­gra­tion with the coun­try’s Asean neigh­bors and East Asian trad­ing part­ners China, Ja­pan and South Korea,” Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los G. Dominguez III said.

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