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The country's disbursement of foreign aid for public projects rose sharply last year because of the huge funding released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB) for crisis mitigating programs, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Data from NEDA's project monitory staff showed that the amount of official development assistance (ODA) that was disbursed last year went up by 132 percent to US$ 2.4 billion.

Disbursement from project loans amounted to US$ 795 million, while program loans reached US$ 1.64 billion.

Foreign-funded projects, which generally deal with infrastructure upgrade or improvement, require counterpart funds from beneficiary governments. Lack of counterpart funds can lead to a delay in implementation or outright cancellation of the foreign aid.

"The significant increase in disbursements, amounting to US$ 1.475 billion, is largely attributed to tranche releases of five program loans funded by ADB and WB," NEDA said.

The program loans were the $ 500-million Countercyclical Support Program-Subprogram II; $ 250-million Development Policy Support Program-Subprogram III; $ 225-million Local Government Financing and Budget Reform Program-Subprogram II; $ 300-million Governance Justice Sector Reform Program, and the $ 200-million Global Food Crisis Response Program Development Policy Operation of World Bank.

NEDA said the ADB recorded a 309.63 percent increase in disbursement level last year to $ 1.32 billion.

This was followed by World Bank with $ 355.37 million, up 82.65 percent from the $ 194.56 million in 2008.

Projects funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) rose 41.76 percent to $ 592.94 million last year from $ 418.28 million in 2008.

Disbursement of the other sources account — comprising ODA from Germany, Belgium, South Korea, Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Kuwait, among others — rose to $ 172.31 million from $ 98.58 million previously.

NEDA, on the other hand, said 17 program and project loans have disbursement rates below 50 percent because of problems in procurement and financial issues.

Projects with zero disbursement include Northrail Project Phase 1 Section I; Credit Facility for the Environmental Management Project; Subic Bay Freeport Environmental Management Project II; Banaoang Pump Irrigation Project and Tulay ng Pangulo sa Kaunlaran.

The Philippines’ cumulative ODA loan commitments numbered 100 and reached a combined $ 9.7 billion. Of this, $ 2.5 billion is accounted by program loans while the remaining $ 7.2 billion is for project loans.

The ADB accounted for 19 ongoing loans amounting to $ 2.24 billion; JBIC, 40 loans at $ 3.46 billion; World Bank, 22 loans at $ 1.61 billion; China, six loans, $ 959.99 million, and others, 32 loans at $ 1.42 billion.

ODA is defined as flows of official financing administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as the main objective. Such loans are concessional in character with a grant element of at least 25 percent. (PNA)
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