JAPAN was the Philippines’ top source of official development assistance (ODA) over the last 20 years, accounting for $14.139 billion worth of loans or 72% of the foreign aid portfolio, the Department of Finance (DoF) said Tuesday.
In a statement, the DoF said Japanese ODA, both disbursed and committed, accounted for the bulk of the $19.676 billion received from development partners in the 2001-2020 period.
Under the current government, Japan provided 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) worth of loans mainly to infrastructure and economic development programs. A major portion went to support big-ticket infrastructure projects such as the Metro Manila Subway and the North-South Commuter Railway.
Hiroto Izumi, the special advisor to Japan’s Prime Minister, said at a meeting between Philippine and Japanese officials on July 28 that Japan will further expand its commitments to the Philippines.
The European Union provided the equivalent of $3.049 billion, or 16%, during the period, and China $1.185 billion.
Loans from South Korea accounted for $1.101 billion, the US $160 million and Middle Eastern partners $20 million.
ODAs are concessional loans the government obtains from its foreign development partners to help it finance its budget deficit.
Official data obtained by BusinessWorld showed the state’s utilization of ODAs — or actual spending relative to target — went up to 66.69% in 2020 from 64.28% in 2019. Total number of ongoing project loans also increased to 76 in 2020 from 67 the year before.
Last year when the pandemic hit, the government had to ramp up its borrowings both domestically and externally to plug its ballooning fiscal gap amid the crisis.
By administration, the Duterte administration obtained a total of $7.947 billion in ODAs so far meant to support its flagship “Build, Build, Build” program, the government’s response to the pandemic and other social programs.
“The extensive bilateral borrowing during the (Duterte) administration has been instrumental in allowing the (government) to spend around 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for infrastructure to spur economic growth, and in safeguarding development gains during the pandemic,” DoF Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven was quoted as saying.
Of which, $6.122 billion or 77% of the total were from Japan.
Under late President Benigno S.C. Aquino III, the government has secured $5.641 billion in ODAs, with 85% or $4.817 billion supported by the Japanese government.
The Arroyo administration, meanwhile, had $6.067 billion of ODAs during its nine-year term, with half of which worth $3.2 billion sourced from Japan. — Beatrice M. Laforga