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Philippines, ADB sign loan deal on $1.5-B budget support for gov’t’s COVID-19 response

Manila-based multilateral lender Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Philippines have signed a loan agreement amounting to $1.5-billion or roughly P76.5 billion as budgetary support for the government’s fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The loan accord was inked by the ADB and the Philippine government on Thursday, April 23, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Friday.

The loan for the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) program of the Philippine government covered by this agreement is under the ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility Pandemic Response Option (CPRO), according to the DOF

The CPRO is a quick-disbursing budget-support facility to aid countries like the Philippines in mitigating the severe economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and bankrolling measures to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious virus.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III signed the loan agreement on behalf of the Philippine government while ADB country director for the Philippines Kelly Bird signed on behalf of the lender.

Dominguez said the agreement for the CARES loan is part of the national government’s external financing program this year to help fund the necessary programs to defeat COVID-19 and bridge the higher deficit requirement estimated at P990.1 billion or around $19.5 billion brought about by the pandemic's economic fallout.

“We thank the ADB under the leadership of President Masatsugu Asakawa for swiftly responding to the Philippines’ call for funding support in this time of crisis. We thank the Bank as well for streamlining its operations to quickly deliver its assistance and for tripling the size of its response package from $6.5 billion to $20 billion   to help  developing member-countries combat COVID-19,” the Finance chief said.

For his part, Asakawa reiterated the ADB’s strong commitment to providing swift and effective assistance to help the Philippines mitigate the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

“Our new financing, the largest budget support ever to the Philippines, is part of a well-sequenced support package that will provide financial and technical advice to help the government meet the challenges posed by a crisis that is wreaking havoc both globally and nationally,” Asakawa said.

Under the terms and conditions of the CARES loan, the $500 million that the Philippines can tap from the ADB’s CPRO facility will be disbursed in US dollars amounting to $250 million, and the Euro equivalent of the other half of the amount. 

This portion of the loan is payable in 10 years inclusive of a three-year grace period.

The remaining $1 billion will also be divided equally into the US dollar and Euro equivalents of the amount under the terms of the loan accord.

The said amount is payable in five years inclusive of a three-year grace period.

The disbursement of the first $1 billion tranche is expected this month while the remaining $500 million may be disbursed on or before June 20, the DOF said.

The ADB was among the first multilateral development institutions to provide assistance to the Philippines’ COVID response efforts with its delivery of a $3-million grant for the government’s purchase of medical supplies for health workers, the Finance department said..

The lender has also approved an emergency grant of $5 million for the Philippines to leverage private-sector donations for a food distribution program that has benefited 55,000 poor households in Metro Manila and neighboring areas.

The food distribution program was implemented in coordination with the Departments of Finance, of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). — RSJ, GMA News