CEBU, PHILIPPINES (30 April 2019) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) held a forum in Cebu on 26 April on its Country Partnership Strategy as it sought to ensure its growing Philippine portfolio is aligned with the country’s development needs and priorities, especially in regions where development is lagging and income inequalities remain high.
Various stakeholders from government agencies, local government, private sector, and civil society organizations provided input to ADB’s country partnership strategy and shared their aspirations for Cebu and the entire Visayas region to raise the standard of living of all its residents. Outputs from the forum will help guide ADB’s support to the Philippines, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, local economic development, and investments in people.
ADB’s partnership with the Philippines, its host country, has been growing in recent years and is set to hit a record high of at least $2.5 billion this year, compared with lending averaging $1 billion in recent years.
“We want to listen to our Filipino stakeholders so that we can properly prioritize and target our assistance to the Philippines,” ADB Country Director for the Philippines Mr. Kelly Bird told participants of the forum. “We also want to engage more with the private sector in areas such as Cebu, where there are dynamic business and industry sectors.”
The government recognizes the important role ADB plays, as well as other development partners, as the Philippines seeks to transform itself into an upper middle-income country, said Undersecretary of the National Economic and Development Authority Mr. Jonathan Uy.
“We are now moving forward to becoming an upper middle-income country,” Mr. Uy said. “We don’t want anyone to be left behind,” he said, adding the country’s partnership with ADB will ensure that the country’s strong growth will be inclusive.
Participants of the forum mentioned quality investments in infrastructure, skills development of local workers, and strong engagement with the local private sector in Cebu and the Visayas region as priorities they hoped ADB can assist the Philippines with. Such investments will be vital in driving economic growth and job creation. It will also stimulate the development of the tourism industry, especially in Cebu, which attracts a growing share of tourist arrivals in the country.
Forum participants also cited the need for more projects aimed to expand social assistance for the poor, access to clean water, better sewage and sanitation, and raising productivity in agriculture.
ADB is preparing its 2020–2022 Philippines Country Operations Business Plan. Proposed programs and projects include the Expanded Social Assistance project, Facilitating Youth School-to-Work program, and Workplace Skills Funding pilot project. ADB is also preparing investments in flood control infrastructure in six river basins in Visayas, Mindanao, and Luzon; a Livable Cities project in selected cities and tourism destinations in Mindanao and Palawan; as well as irrigation and agribusiness in Mindanao.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.