World Bank help
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez asked the right institution that could start the ball rolling on the construction of 75 flagship infrastructure projects over the next five years under the Philippines’ “Build, Build, Build” program. The World Bank is the ideal partner, with the bank’s mission dovetailing with the government’s objectives.
Dominguez and other government officials are set to sit down with World Bank representatives to explore the partnership and tap the multilateral institution’s assistance, as well, in getting Marawi City back on its feet.
Says Dominguez: “People will go back and live there, so the infrastructure should be good and sound. That’s certainly an area where we will need assistance.” World Bank executive board director Otaviano Canuto committed the bank’s help, assuring that its experience and expertise “is unmatched,” especially in the area of education.
Dominguez conceded that the Philippines had neglected infrastructure projects and that the government was “determined to close the country’s infrastructure gap,” which will require funding of around $170 billion over the next five years.
“We are coming from a long period when we underinvested in infrastructure as compared to our neighbors,” Dominguez said. “We have announced our major program is to reduce poverty and [one of] the tools to be used is building a lot of infrastructure. There’s a wide open field for your engagement on those areas.”
Infrastructure projects such as toll roads, bridges, airports, seaports and rail networks speed up the flow of goods and services. They bring the market closer to the countryside and encourage productivity in farms and fishing communities.
World Bank’s assistance, meanwhile, will come in handy. From early loans that helped rebuild nations devastated by World War II, the bank has shifted its focus from reconstruction to development. It has funded infrastructure such as dams, electrical grids, irrigation systems and roads.
The Philippines will, indeed, need the bank’s expertise and rigid norms in building projects. The presence of the multilateral institution may also thwart corrupt practices that attend such big projects.