FOR RECOVERY, RESILIENCE: WB approves $900M loan for PH

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    The World Bank yesterday approved two projects, with a combined value of $900 million, to support the Philippines’ efforts to recover from the pandemic, improve competitiveness, and build resilience against shocks and natural disasters.

    The Washington-based agency said in a statement the first is the $600-million Promoting Competitiveness and Enhancing Resilience to Natural Disasters Development Policy Loan supporting transformational reforms to hasten the adoption of digital technologies, promote greater competition and reduce the costs of doing business to revive more economic activities and jobs in the country.

    These will help small and medium enterprises bounce back from the pandemic, help citizens cope with social distancing measures and other health protocols, and improve delivery of social assistance to the most disadvantaged groups in society, the World Bank said.

    “Reforms to improve digital infrastructure and speed up adoption of digital technologies will not only help the country’s efforts to recover from the impacts of the pandemic but will also boost its export competitiveness that is vital for creating more and better jobs in the future,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, The Philippines and Thailand.

    “The implementation of the national ID system is a fundamental reform that will allow for better targeting of social programs, reducing of transaction costs, and ensuring the protection of vulnerable groups, especially in times of shocks including pandemics and natural disasters,” he added.

    The second project is a $300-million Additional Financing for KALAHI-CIDSS National Community Driven Development Project (KC-NCDDP) to help address poverty in poor rural communities.

    The World Bank said the additional funding will provide grants to finance community-identified and community-managed responses that restore or improve basic social services to address the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and other disasters which have disproportionately affected the poorest and most vulnerable municipalities.

    “Community-driven development approaches have shown to be effective in accelerating community reconstruction following disaster events and efficiently putting money for priority needs of communities around the world,” Diop said.

    “I have no doubt that the same approach – communities working together to address common challenges – will help them bounce back from this pandemic and build resilience to future shocks at the same time,” he added.

    KC-NCDDP is implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

    The World Bank said in the COVID-19 context, communities can secure funding for isolation facilities, improvements in water and sanitation and construction or upgrading of health stations. Community members are also responsible for implementation and maintenance of these projects.

    From 2014 to 2020, beneficiaries have completed more than 28,000 community projects in close to 19,000 barangays in 830 municipalities across the country, benefitting a total of 7.8 million families.