The European Union (EU) has committed grants worth 150 million euros to the Philippines, bulk of which will help finance programs for agricultural productivity in Mindanao and provide electricity to its far-flung small island-communities, the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement yesterday.
The DOF said Thomas Wiersing, charge d’affaires of the EU delegation to the Philippines, made this commitment during a recent virtual meeting with Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, to discuss the progress of the development cooperation between the Philippines and the EU.
As of August this year, EU has extended a total of 85 million euros-worth of grants for the government’s peace and development initiatives in Mindanao.
During the meeting, Wiersing also reaffirmed the EU’s intention to reorient portions of its grants to the Philippine government’s coronavirus response efforts in Mindanao, the DOF said.
Wiersing also restated the EU’s continuing assistance to institute reforms in the Philippines’ justice system through the second phase of the Justice Sector Reform Programme: Governance in Justice.
On behalf of the Philippine government, Dominguez thanked the EU for continuing to support the peace- and confidence-building initiatives as well as for its assistance in boosting trade and agricultural productivity in Mindanao.
Dominguez also expressed his appreciation for the EU’s plan to reorient portions of its grants to Mindanao’s pandemic response efforts and its intention to provide support to cash-strapped local government units in the south.
He likewise welcomed the EU’s plan to provide grants for the electrification of Mindanao’s small island-communities and suggested the use of clean energy to implement this project.
During the same meeting,
Dominguez sought the EU’s expertise and assistance in accelerating the competitiveness of the Philippines’ manufacturing sector, given its weaknesses as a result of the country’s sudden jump from an agriculture- to a services-based economy.
Dominguez said the EU, with its large manufacturing base, can share its technical expertise or extend assistance in providing the necessary equipment to help integrate medium-sized enterprises in the supply chain of big companies.
Strengthening and incentivizing the manufacturing sector will help the Philippines sustain its recovery from the pandemic, he added.
Dominguez also broached the possibility for the EU to assist the Duterte administration’s effort to provide individual land titles to agrarian reform beneficiaries, especially in Mindanao, so they could have property rights and access to credit facilities and other forms of financial support. (A. Celis)