World Bank vows support for Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr admin’s development agenda

2023 May 24

MANILA — The World Bank has assured the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. of its full support for its goal of transforming the Philippines into a “prosperous, inclusive and poverty-free” nation by 2040, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil said the assurance was made when World Bank Managing Director for Operations Anna Bjerde paid a courtesy call on Cabinet officials at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday to align the bank’s priorities with the Philippines’ development agenda.

“The World Bank is committed to supporting the Philippines achieve long-term inclusive and sustainable growth, attain upper middle-income country status, and eventually become a predominantly middle-class society by 2040,” Bjerde, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), said.

During a meeting with the top Philippine officials, Bjerde reiterated the World Bank’s continued resolve to support the Marcos administration’s initiatives to ensure food security, develop the agriculture sector, address climate change, digitize government services, pursue the use of renewable energy, and seek clean water and sanitation.

Bjerde stressed that the Philippine economy continues to be robust despite global headwinds.

“The post-pandemic recovery is underway in the Philippines, with strong domestic demand weathering global headwinds. Since 2022, its economy has been growing rapidly, aided by a substantial reduction in Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases that facilitated a full economic reopening,” she said.

The Cabinet officials present during Bjerde’s courtesy call were Garafil, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Public Works Secretary Manuel Bonoan, and Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman.

Bjerde was joined by World Bank Regional Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Manuela Ferro and World Bank Country Director for the Philippines Ndiamé Diop. 

Before the courtesy visit at Malacañan, Bjerde also met with Diokno and Finance Undersecretary Mark Joven at the Department of Finance’s office in Manila on Monday to discuss the continuing partnership for transformative projects on agriculture, food security, health, education, renewable energy, and climate finance.

The World Bank emphasized the Philippines’ “excellent” progress in the implementation of its ongoing projects and agreed to support the government’s priority areas through engagements in various areas, in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028 for “deep” economic and social transformation.

It also noted the opportunities for the Philippines to further boost investments and long-term growth, considering its young and skilled labor force and sound macroeconomic policies.

The programs discussed between the officials of the World Bank and the Philippine government were the Teacher Effectiveness and Competencies Enhancement Project (TEACEP) and Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale-Up.

The proposed TEACEP aims to improve the quality of and access to teaching in Kindergarten to Grade 6 in the regions of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Zamboanga Peninsula, and Soccsksargen (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City).

On the other hand, the PRDP Scale-Up will build on previous PRDP to further improve farmers’ and fisherfolks’ access to markets and increase income from selected agriculture and fisheries (A&F) value chains.

The WB-International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is the Philippines’ third largest official development assistance (ODA) partner, with active loans and grants amounting to around USD6.8 billion.

The figure is 21.2 percent of the country’s total ODA.

In September 2022, Marcos met with World Bank executives in New York City to present his administration’s priorities aimed at bringing progress and development to the Philippines.

Bjerde also visited the National Disaster Emergency Operations Center of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) which houses the Geo-risk and Hazard Information Management System.

She said climate shocks will not only hamper economic activities and damage infrastructure but also hurt the poor and vulnerable most.

“We welcome opportunities to support the country’s climate adaptation and mitigation programs to help address these challenges,” Bjerde said.

Over the last 10 years, World Bank’s support to the Philippines was focused on enhancing inclusive growth through reforms to speed up job creation; social protection such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps); rural development; disaster-risk reduction; resilience and peacebuilding; and development of human capital through expanded support to the health and education sectors.

Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, Anna Leah Gonzales (PNA)