Recently appointed World Bank (WB) Managing Director (MD) for Operations Anna Bjerde paid a courtesy visit to Philippine cabinet members at the Malacañang Palace on May 23, 2023 to align the Bank’s priorities with the Philippines’ development agenda.
The meeting was led by Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, who also serves as the WB Governor for the Philippines. He was joined by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Manuel Bonoan, and Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla.
Press Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil represented the Office of the President.
During the courtesy visit, the Bank noted the Philippines’ excellent progress in the implementation of its ongoing projects and expressed its desire to support the PBBM administration’s economic agenda.
In line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028 for deep economic and social transformation, the Bank agreed to support the government’s priority areas through engagements in smart agriculture and food security, transition to renewable energy (RE), disaster risk management, strengthening the education system, and water sanitation.
The WB noted the opportunities for the Philippines to further boost investments and long term growth given its young and skilled labor force and sound macroeconomic policies.
Notable programs discussed 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), Region lX (Zamboanga Peninsula), and Region Xll (SOCCSKARGEN).
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 US$6.8 billion which is 21.2 percent of the country’s total ODA.
Prior to the courtesy visit, Secretary Diokno and Undersecretary Mark Y.C. Joven also met with MD Bjerde at the DOF office in Manila on May 22, 2023 to discuss the continuing partnership in pushing for transformative projects on agriculture, food security, health, education, RE, and climate finance.
MD Bjerde was joined by WB Regional Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Manuela Ferro and WB Country Director for the Philippines Ndiamé Diop.