Philippines seeks WB expertise for infra, Marawi rehab

By Mary Grace Padin

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government may tap the World Bank’s assistance for its Build Build Build program and Marawi rehabilitation efforts, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.

In a recent meeting with World Bank official Otaviano Canuto, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the Philippines may enlist the World Bank’s expertise for the implementation of the 75 flagship infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s Build Build Build initiative.

He said the government also wants to seek the multilateral institution’s assistance for the reconstruction of the conflict-hit Marawi City.

 “We should rebuild these areas (in Marawi City). People will go back and live there, so the infrastructure should be good and sound. That’s certainly an area where we will need assistance. We welcome your expertise,” Dominguez told Canuto.

Canuto, who is currently the executive director of the executive board of the World Bank group and its affiliates, said the bank could help the government, particularly the development of Mindanao.

He said the World Bank could also extend its expertise to help the Philippines improve the design and implementation of its infrastructure program.

During the meeting, Canuto also commended the Philippine government for spearheading the tax reform program.

 “It’s very good to highlight what the Philippines is doing in the area of tax reform. We will use what has happened here as an (example) for other countries,” he said.

The Duterte administration plans to embark in a massive infrastructure program dubbed as Build Build Build until 2022 in its thrust to sustain economic growth, attract investments, create jobs and reduce poverty.

The program, which is seen to cost the government as much as P8 trillion over the medium term, includes 75 flagship infrastructure projects.

According to Dominguez, there is a need to bridge the country’s infrastructure backlog and to realign the country’s income tax rates to improve the Philippines’ competitiveness.

The finance chief said these initiatives would require the implementation of a Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.

 “The CTRP is an indispensable component of the Duterte administration’s economic strategy. It is an audacious strategy that seeks to lift our country to upper middle-income status by 2022 and high-income status by 2040,” he said.

The CTRP, contained in House bill 5636 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, aims to simplify the country’s tax system by lowering income tax rates, unifying estate taxes and broadening the value-added tax base.

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