THE World Bank (WB) committed to continue its existing projects and programs and step up engagements in helping developing the Philippine agriculture, housing, and peace process efforts under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
Victoria Kwakwa, WB – East Asia and the Pacific Region vice president told reporters last Friday, September 16 in a media roundtable interview at the Marco Polo Hotel-Davao that the commitment was developed after her series of meetings with key senior government officials and business leaders here.
She said her visit in Davao City was geared towards understanding deeper the key development challenges in the country, hear feedbacks from government and private counterparts on the support of WB here, and see what the group can do more with the Philippines together in alleviating poverty and providing quality jobs to the poorer Filipinos.
“We are always been working both for peace and development and will continue to do so based on the government programs. We will work closely to the government that will not change,” she said.
Among the cabinet members she met were Vice President Leni Robredo, who chairs the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza. She also met with Mindanao Business Council, Mindanao Development Authority and the Bangsamoro Youth.
She added that the core of all her conversations with government and private sectors is the important of government’s peace and development agenda in Mindanao and seeing this as an integral part of its efforts to reduce poverty and achieve inclusive growth that will trickle down to the poorest of the poor.
However, she said, no specifics has been discussed and firmed up yet as her visit was more on strategic discussions and commitments of WB with key counterparts here but constant communication between government officials and WB representatives has been established to finalized a strategic approach on development programs and projects.
"We are not just here to do what we want, we are here to do our development efforts in the context of strategic planning with the government," she said.
Some of the most recently-approved programs and projects of WB here are Philippine Rural Development Project, Philippines Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Support Project, Philippines Renewable Energy Development, Philippines Social Welfare Development and Reform Project, Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Loan with a CAT-DDO and Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System, among others.
While projects in the pipeline are Harvest Project, Philippines Program for Climate Resilience: TA for the Risk Resiliency and Sustainability Program, Philippines Development Policy Loan IV, Metro Manila Flood Management, Inclusive Partnerships for Agricultural Competitiveness and Metro Manila BRT Line 1 Project.
“We strongly support the 10-point agenda, the new administration has point out its priority through it and we will based our efforts on the agenda,” she said.
The 10-point agenda put emphasis on macroeconomics, tax reform, agriculture, social issues and all areas aligned to promote inclusive growth.
“Enhancing public infrastructure investment is also a way as there is a huge infra deficit and we’re to close that (deficit) as a way of continuing to stimulate growth doing it in a way that benefit poorer citizens,” Kwakwa said.
Agriculture Mara Warwick, country director of WB for her part said, that they have been doing engagement on agriculture and they will continue to pour in funds and other ways to reach out as they “recognized the importance of agriculture agenda for creating jobs and lifting people out of poverty.”
Kwakwa cited that majority of poorer Filipinos work for a living out of agriculture. She added that they are committed to help make agriculture more productive, strengthened it to become base for industrialization through agro-industry, “It (agriculture) can be a driver for growth, it can provide meaningful jobs for poorer Filipinos,” Kwakwa said.
Housing Kwakwa said that in her meeting with Robredo, housing agenda and accelerated implementation of post Yolanda reconstruction efforts were on top of the list.
“She is eager to get it going, accelerated implementation,” she said.
The government is moving on the direction of providing access to affordable housing seeing it as a big part in addressing urban poverty in big cities like Manila, Cebu and Davao, among others.
She also shared that they have come in agreement to put in place a roadmap for the housing sector that would help achieve government’s objectives --- to provide good shelter for every Filipinos. It will be a “roadmap” that would serve as a platform for other development partners and other players in helping support the implementation of the housing agenda.
Peace Kwakwa said they promised to support the new admininstration’s direction of pursuing a more inclusive, enhanced approach to the peace process.
“The new admin has said the peace agreement that has been reached will be implemented and they seek to bring new members of the conflict that have not been engaged with before, this is something that we support, the more inclusive you can make the peace agreement, the more likely you can get a stable peace,” she said adding that the efforts are very much aligned to their core objectives --- helping to eliminate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.