Revised timeline for WB assistance program pushed

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    The Department of Finance (DOF) has suggested to the World Bank to modify its timeline in coming up with its Country Partnership Framework (CPF) with the Philippines so the institution’s assistance strategy would be in sync with the entry of each new administration starting in 2022.

    Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, had a recent meeting with David Malpass, World Bank president, at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC, the DOF said in a statement yesterday.

    The CPF lasts until 2024, which Dominguez said should be cut short to 2023.

    By doing so, the new administration elected in 2022 would have enough time to propose and implement new projects with the World Bank, he said.

    According to the multilateral agency, the CPF guides the World Bank Group’s focus and priorities for engagement in the Philippines, including lending and non-lending programs and services.

    According to details posted in its website, the World Bank Group is currently developing a CPF for the Philippines for the 2020 to 2024 period.

    It further showed that early CPF consultations, which seek views on potential priority areas for World Bank engagement, has already ended.

    Meanwhile, in the same meeting, the DOF said the World Bank is encouraging innovations using digital technology to expand financial inclusion in the Philippines.

    The DOF cited Malpass as saying the Philippines’ robust economy offers many opportunities for the government to “reguide” its digitalization efforts to empower Filipinos.

    He commended the Philippines’ efforts to kickstart its digitalization program with the passage of a National Identification (ID) Law that aims to unify and streamline an identification system for all Filipino citizens.

    Malpass said the use of new technologies, particularly digital currency and remittances, “can open new avenues” for marginalized sectors to participate in the economy.

    He said this is why the World Bank is now studying how these innovations can directly benefit people while encouraging them to avail of state-provided social services, such as healthcare.

    “This is an opportunity because you have so many things going on where you can reguide the program,” Malpass said.

    Dominguez for his part welcomed support for digitalization as a way to expand financial inclusion in developing economies.

    The DOF said he told Malpass the Philippine government has long been implementing a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, in which the lowest-income households in the country receive cash grants provided they fulfill certain conditions, such as ensuring that their children go to school or that pregnant mothers get regular medical checkups.

    This CCT program “has worked pretty well” because of the assistance extended by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to the government, Dominguez said.

    He added the passage of a national ID Law, which will be implemented on a pilot basis starting the first quarter of next year, will significantly improve the delivery of the CCT program.

    “That’s all good,” Malpass said on learning from Dominguez the Philippines’ efforts to digitalize its government services.

    According to World Bank country director for the Philippines Mara Warwick, the multilateral institution is providing technical assistance to the Philippines for the rollout of its national ID system.

    During the meeting, Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank’s regional vice president for East Asia and the Pacific Region, also informed Dominguez of the institution’s new policy that supports the Philippines’ reform initiatives in enhancing its fiscal stability, global competitiveness and economic resilience.

    Dominguez said the World Bank can assist in the administration’s ongoing efforts to help the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao set up its government, and adopt the best practices of other independent political entities in other parts of the world that have successfully set up and effectively run their regional governments.

    In response, Malpass said the World Bank would like to work on that.

    According to the DOF, Malpass also said during the meeting that the World Bank’s coordination with ADB has now improved following Dominguez’s suggestion to reduce the duplication of efforts between the two institutions and work closely instead in effectively delivering development aid to the region.

    Dominguez also briefed Malpass and other World Bank officials during the meeting on the progress of the administration’s tax reform and infrastructure modernization programs, and the country’s prospects for growth this year amid the global economic slowdown, the DOF said.