Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has sought South Korea’s funding support and expertise in implementing the Philippines’ big-ticket infrastructure and information technology (IT) projects in line with the Duterte administration’s goal of modernizing the country’s logistics backbone and preparing the economy for the impact of rapid technological innovations.
During his recent meeting with Korean Ambassador Han Dong-Man, Dominguez expressed the hope that at least six Philippine projects in the pipeline would receive financing support from the Export-Import Bank of Korea-Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEXIM-EDCF) under the Framework Arrangement formalized between the two countries last May 4.
Under this arrangement, the Philippines can access Korea’s loan facility under the EDCF up to an amount not exceeding $1 billion over a five-year period until 2022.
Among the projects proposed by the Philippines under this Framework Arrangement is the New Cebu International Container Port Project with an estimated loan amount of $172.64 million.
Dominguez told the Ambassador that he hopes the loan agreement for this Cebu project would be signed during the first week of June.
President Duterte, accompanied by a delegation that includes Dominguez, is set to visit South Korea from June 3 to 5 for a summit with President Moon Jae-in.
A project preparation facility of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), which includes the Asbang Small Reservoir Irrigation Project in Davao del Sur; the development of a new airport in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental; and the implementation of an electronic receipt and invoice system and electronic sales reporting system are among the projects that the Philippines plans to present to Korea for funding support, Dominguez said during the meeting with Ambassador Han.
On behalf of the Philippine government, Dominguez also thanked Korea for its support in constructing the Panguil Bay Bridge, which will connect Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte. This. 3.4 kilometer bridge is among the 75 flagship infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration.
“Thank you for all the assistance you have provided us,” Dominguez told the Korean Ambassador. “Panguil Bay Bridge is coming along and you have funded a lot of projects. I want to assure you that we will not waste your taxpayers’ money, we will make sure that it will benefit the Filipino people.”
During the meeting, Ambassador Han said he has encouraged Korean businesses to “invest, invest and invest here” in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao where, he said, there are “more opportunities.”
The ambassador also said he has urged the Korean government to help in rebuilding the devastated city of Marawi.
“I have asked Korean companies to join many projects in Mindanao,” the ambassador said.
Among the top Korean companies with current investments in the Philippines are Samsung, Sunjjn, Kepco, Daewoo International, and Asiana Airlines.
The Philippines’ sixth largest provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA) is South Korea, with loans and grants provided to the country amounting to $570.60 million as of December 2017.
South Korea is also among the top sources of foreign tourist arrivals to the country for the past three years, with some 1.6 million Koreans visiting the Philippines in 2017.