PHto close more loan deals with Ja­pan, China

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

The Philip­pine gov­ern­ment is set to sign at least six loan agree­ments with Ja­pan and China dur­ing the first quar­ter, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Fi­nance (DOF).

Fi­nance Un­der­sec­re­tary Mark Den­nis Y. Joven told re­porters last Fri­day that be­tween Jan­uary and March, the gov­ern­ment could fi­nal­ize deals with Ja­pan for three projects, in­clud­ing an agree­ment cov­er­ing part of the P777.6-bil­lion 147-kilome- ter North-South Com­muter Rail­way Sys­tem (NSCR) stretch­ing from the Clark Freeport Zone to Calamba, La­guna.

The NSCR, to be im­ple­mented by the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion and the Philip­pine Na­tional Rail­ways, will con­nect an on­go­ing Phase 1 span­ning Malo­los, Bu­la­can and Tu­tuban, Manila to the PNR South Com­muter Rail­way all the way to Calamba and the Malo­los-Clark Rail­way.

The mas­sive rail­way pro­ject would be co-fi­nanced by the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­opera- tion Agency and the Mani­l­abased mul­ti­lat­eral lender Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, with the first tranche of the loan es­ti­mated at 167.2 bil­lion yen (about P79.7 bil­lion).

Ja­panese loans would also be tapped for the fourth phase of the Pasig-Marik­ina River Chan­nel Im­prove­ment Pro­ject and the P10-bil­lion Road Net­work De­vel­op­ment Pro­ject in Con­flict-Af­fected Ar­eas in Min­danao, Joven added.

The gov­ern­ment had pitched to se­cure a 37.9-bil­lion yen ( about P18.6 bil­lion) loan from Ja­pan for the fi­nal phase of the pro­ject aimed at mit­i­gat­ing “the fre­quent mas­sive flood­ing caused by the over­flow of the Pasig-Marik­ina River,” the DOF said in a state­ment Mon­day.

The Min­danao road pro­ject, on the other hand, would in­volve the con­struc­tion of 186.2 km of new roads on top of up­grad­ing 32.9 km in ex­ist­ing roads across the is­land’s five re­gions, doc­u­ments from the state-run Na­tional Eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity showed.

Joven said the up­com­ing loan agree­ments would likely be signed dur­ing the sev­enth Philip­pines-Ja­pan High-Level Joint Com­mit­tee on In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion meet­ing to be held in Ja­pan this com­ing Fe­bru­ary.

Joven added loans would also be se­cured from China for the De­part­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment’s P20.3-bil­lion Safe Philip­pines Pro­ject-Phase 1; the P175.3-bil­lion PNR South Long-Haul be­tween Manila and Bi­col Re­gion; and a bridge cross­ing Pasig River.

“We’re tim­ing the en­gage­ment with China in time for Pres­i­dent Duterte’s visit to China this April,” Joven said.

Neda doc­u­ments showed the China loans would be for the 639-km rail pro­ject from Lu­zon to Matnog, Sor­so­gon. The pro­ject would be di­vided into two parts: one for the pro­ject man­age­ment con­sul­tancy and an­other for the de­sign-build con­tract.

Ground­break­ing for the PNR South Long-Haul Pro­ject would be in Au­gust, for it to be fin­ished by 2022.

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