Philippines: Senate panel starts probe on infrastructure foreign financing

  • The Senate committee on economic affairs will start on 5 Mar 19 its inquiry into the status of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, particularly on the economic and security risks of foreign financing used for big-ticket infrastructure projects.
  • The probe seeks to inquire into the terms and conditions of the foreign loans, particularly those dangled by China.
  • Senators have pressed for transparency on the Chinese loans as these could plunge the country into a debt trap due to onerous terms of the loans, such as exorbitant interest rates imposed by China at 2-3%, or China’s non-traditional loan scheme of holding natural resources as collateral for loans, which can further burden the average Filipino, who will ultimately be responsible to pay for the country’s debt.
  • Senators Gatchalian noted the administration’s flagship infrastructure program includes 75 high-impact projects with a total cost of PHP8tr or an average spending of PHP1.4tr annually from 2017 to 2022. The bulk of the projects or 40 big-ticket items will be funded by official development assistance (ODA).

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