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DOF chief: Foreign grants ban has little effect on infra funding

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III ( Photo from the Department of Finance)

MANILA, Philippines — There will be minimal impact on foreign funding for big-ticket infrastructure projects from the ban on money coming from countries that pushed the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) probe of alleged abuses in the Philippines, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez II, who heads the Duterte administration’s economic team.

“The suspension of talks with the countries which voted in favor of the UNHRC resolution will not have a significant impact on the country,” Dominguez said Sunday night. “First, it will not affect existing grants and loans, if any, already being implemented.”

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Dominguez said $377.43 million in existing grants would not be affected — $228.89 million from Australia; $151.31 million from Germany; $6.72 million from France; $4.71 million from Italy; and $570,000 from Spain.

While France and Germany were not among the 18 countries that voted in the affirmative for the UNHRC resolution last July 11, Dominguez said: “I was made to understand that France and Germany were among those that sponsored the resolution.”

The 18 countries that voted in the affirmative were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

Dominguez added: “All proposed engagements with said countries except for one small project loan in the amount of 21 million euros are technical assistance grants and hence will not significantly affect the infrastructure program of the government. In any case, multilateral development financial institutions and other bilateral partners have signified their intention to finance said 21 million euros.”

“And finally, the rates offered by said countries [if ever] are no better than the rates already offered by multilateral development financial institutions and bilateral development partners,” Dominguez said.

According to him, the total pipeline that will be affected by the ban includes the $109.41-million Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit Project.

/atm

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