Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz have met recently to discuss several projects for possible funding by France, including the first urban car cable system in the Philippines that will serve as an environment-friendly means of mass transportation to help ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
Ambassador Boccoz said France is willing to provide financing support through a “highly concessional loan” for this proposed urban cable car system, which will be the first not only in the Philippines, but in Asia.
Secretary Dominguez said during the virtual meeting that the project is up for approval by the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), which he chairs.
The proposed US$100-million Manila Urban Car Cable Project of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) initially involves the construction of a cable-propelled mass transport system spanning about 4.5 kilometers (km) along the Santolan-Eastwood-Pasig corridor.
In 2018, the government of France extended a grant for the feasibility study on this project.
During the virtual meeting held via Zoom, Secretary Dominguez and Ambassador Boccoz also discussed the proposal to acquire 40 units of 24-meter fast patrol boats (FPBs) for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), along with two additional 84-meter offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and two coastal patrol boats from French shipbuilder OCEA.
Ambassador Boccoz confirmed to Secretary Dominguez that the French Treasury is eager to provide support for this acquisition of maritime vessels.
France earlier delivered to the Philippines the OPV christened the Gabriela Silang to the PCG in 2019 and four FPBs in 2018.
Ambassador Boccoz also expressed France’s interest in developing the Philippines’ shipbuilding industry during the meeting.
Given the assurance by Secretary Dominguez on the Philippines’ continued prudent fiscal management and implementation of tax reforms to augment funds for COVID-19 response and economic recovery, Ambassador Boccoz said the country remains a viable investment destination for foreign investors.
Secretary Dominguez, who is chairman-designate of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), also discussed with the Ambassador the government’s plan of action to fight climate change, including pushing the passage of legislation banning single-use plastics; opportunities for clean energy projects, especially in Mindanao; disaster-resilience initiatives; and the Philippines’ possible issuance of short-tenor, euro-based “green” bonds.