The Philippines is interested in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) proposed $5-billion COVID-19 crisis recovery financing, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said Friday.

The Beijing-based multilateral lender said in a statement it had pitched to its board of directors to establish a “crisis recovery facility in response to urgent economic, financial and public health pressures and to support a quick recovery after the current crisis,” referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial $5-billion facility will be made available to both governments and private sector entities adversely impacted by the ongoing health crisis.

“This is a very welcome initiative from the AIIB. We will definitely present to them our plans for combating the contagion and for the long-term strengthening of our health care system,” Dominguez said.

Last week, Dominguez also expressed interest in the AIIB’s pitch to finance more health infrastructure across the region in order to better respond to future pandemics.

Dominguez had said the AIIB’s healthcare infrastructure program would be evaluated by the departments of Finance and Health.

As for its proposed new crisis recovery facility, the AIIB is planning to offer it during the next 18 months for qualified projects across its member-countries.

The Philippines became a last-minute founding member of the AIIB in 2015 as then finance secretary Cesar V. Purisima secured former President Benigno Aquino III’s approval just a couple of days before the deadline.

“The size of the facility could be increased depending on client demand. The AIIB is also exploring how it can use its project preparation special fund to help its members, especially low-income members, whose economies are being particularly impacted by COVID-19,” the lender said.

“The facility could support emergency public health needs such as health infrastructure for emergency preparedness and clients whose infrastructure investments are severely impacted by the pandemic. It could also provide the financing needed to preserve the productive capacity of other productive sectors, including manufacturing, that have been hit by COVID-19,” the AIIB added.

“A well-managed and robust development institution must be nimble enough to deal with external shocks and responsive enough to adapt to the changing needs of its clients while also adhering to our mission of promoting economic and social development in Asia. The international community needs to come together to pool our resources to help the world navigate the current pandemic and economic upheaval. The AIIB is committed to playing its full part,” bank president and chair Jin Liqun said.

“The AIIB will do its part to rapidly respond to the financing needs of its members and clients in close partnership with other international development institutions. I believe this new facility will help our clients to overcome immediate financial pressures and maintain critical long-term investments that otherwise may not be possible,” Jin added. —Ben O. de Vera


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