Japan, PH pledge to cooperate on Build projects

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    The Philippines and Japan have reaffirmed their joint commitment on the implementation of Build, Build, Build projects and other initiatives, to further strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries amid and beyond the coronavirus-induced global crisis, the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement over the weekend.

    During the recent virtual meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation, both countries committed to work towards the signing of the agreement on the second tranche loan for the Metro Manila Subway Project (Phase 1) in the first quarter of 2021.

    Japan also said it has already approved 3.1 billion yen in technical assistance for the Cebu-Mactan Bridge (4th Bridge) and Coastal Road Construction Project, the Master Plan for Subic Bay, the Parañaque Spillway and the Cagayan de Oro-Malaybay Section of the Central Mindanao Highway project.

    The Japanese side also committed to continuously provide technical assistance and technical assistance-related grants to the Philippines with highly concessional payment terms, possibly under its Special Terms of Economic Partnership for eligible countries, before the Philippines elevates its classification to an upper-middle income country on or before 2022.

    The 10th meeting of the high-level committee was held on October 28 via videoconferencing for the first time due to travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic

    According to the DOF, Japan also said during the meeting it remains committed to enhancing bilateral ties with the Philippines under the leadership of new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

    “Our commitment to this long-standing partnership has proved beneficial amidst these trying times. Our cooperation in accelerating infrastructure development will be most critical in the country’s recovery from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, said.

    Dominguez, who led the Philippine panel in the meeting, said the two sides also discussed programs on accelerating Mindanao’s economic development and peace-building initiatives with a new Bangsamoro autonomous government in place and amid the ongoing rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Marawi City.

    Acting secretary Karl Kendrick Chua of the National Economic and Development Authority co-chaired the Philippine panel, while Hiroto Izumi, special advisor to the Japan prime minister, led the Japanese side.

    The Philippines also thanked Japan for its assistance to the country’s COVID-19 response efforts and programs to combat future natural and health-related emergencies during the meeting.

    Izumi said Japan would like to continue to monitor and support the Philippines’ efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Meanwhile, the DOF said both sides also discussed the possible impact of the pandemic on the ongoing and pipeline infrastructure projects, particularly on the safety of the workers, the indicative increase in the total project costs, immigration concerns and effects on the original timeline of the respective projects.

    The Philippines committed to continue consultations with the affected stakeholders and to formulate a common framework to address these concerns, the DOF said. – A. Celis