By Ben O. de Vera, March 19 2019; Philippine Daily Inquirer
Image Credit to Philippine Star
Top Philippine and Chinese officials will meet in Beijing this week to firm up financing for big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program.
In a statement Monday, the Department of Finance (DOF) said the Philippine delegation led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is scheduled to meet with China’s Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) today (Tuesday) “to firm up possible new agreements on infrastructure cooperation between the two countries.”
So far, the Philippines has signed two loan agreements with China for the P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project and the P12.2-billion New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam.
A National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) report in January showed that of the 35 flagship “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects approved by the Neda Board chaired by President Duterte as of November last year, 12 will be financed by Chinese loans and grants.
A total of 75 projects were included in the massive “Build, Build, Build” aimed at ushering in a “golden age of infrastructure” by the time Mr. Duterte ends his term in 2022.
The biggest Chinese-financed project would be the P175.32-billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long-Haul connecting Metro Manila to Bicol.
Another big project to be rolled out with financing from China is the P50.03-billion Subic-Clark Railway connecting the two freeport zones in Central Luzon.
Besides Mofcom officials, the Filipino officials will also meet with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, the Export-Import Bank of China (EximBank) and the China International Development Cooperation Agency (Cidca), the DOF said.
On Wednesday (March 20), Beijing will host a Philippine Economic Briefing “to showcase to potential investors the vast opportunities available to them in the Philippines as it emerges as an economic powerhouse in the region,” according to the DOF.
The previous Philippine Economic Briefing held in China in 2017 was conducted in Shanghai.
On the sidelines of the Philippine Economic Briefing, the Bureau of the Treasury will hold a nondeal road show in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Fuzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Xiamen starting March 20 for the upcoming return to the panda market in April.
National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon told reporters last week that they were eyeing tenors of three and five years and planning to sell a bigger volume of up to $500 million in renminbi-denominated securities for the planned second panda bond sale.
In March last year, 1.46 billion renminbi ($230 million) in three-year panda bonds were sold by the Philippine government for the first time in China at a yield of 5 percent.