MANILA – The Government of Japan remained the country’s top Official Development Assistance (ODA) development partner, in terms of loans, for the first half of 2017.

Loans from Japan, administered through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had the largest share of 44.83 percent in the total ODA loans portfolio, amounting to USD4.84 billion, the National Economic and Development Authority said during the 62nd Project Implementation Officers’ Meeting held at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) last Monday.

“Japan has been our long-time development partner and we have established a strong relationship with them. They have one of the best loan terms,” NEDA Undersecretary for Investment Programming Rolando Tungpalan said.

He explained that loans from JICA particularly under the Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) have a payment period of 40 years with a 0.1 percent annual interest rate for civil works and 0.01 percent for consulting services.

The World Bank came in second with USD2.948 billion (27.31%) while the Asian Development Bank (ADB) ranked third with USD 2.174 billion (20.14%).

As of the first half of 2017, the country’s total ongoing ODA loans amounted to USD10.797 billion, consisting of 54 project loans (USD8.197 billion) and 7 program loans (USD2.6 billion).

In terms of financial performance, the country’s disbursement level slightly decreased to USD802.95 million from the USD861.04 million in the first semester of 2016.

Meanwhile, the disbursement rate increased to 86.68 percent for the first half of 2017 from 71.38 percent in the first half of 2016.

Among implementing agencies, the DPWH and Department of Transportation had the highest loan count with 16 and 11 loans, respectively.

Tungpalan highlighted the contribution of ODA loans toward implementing priority projects of the Duterte Administration, stating that 23 of the 35 approved projects by the NEDA Board will be funded by ODA loans.

“35 projects have already been approved by the NEDA Board amounting to PHP1.235 trillion, majority of which will be funded by ODA in the amount of PHP1.074 trillion. Last September 12, the NEDA Board approved the Metro Manila Subway Project, amounting to PHP355.588 billion, to be funded by Japan,” he said.

Among the priority projects with funding from JICA are the PNR North 2 (Malolos-Clark Airport-Clark Green City Rail), Cavite Industrial Area Flood Management Project, Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Phase II, and the recently approved Metro Manila Subway Project.

He further explained, however, that the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 states that the government’s investment program for infrastructure will be based on an optimal mix of ODA, government domestic financing (General Appropriations Act), and private capital (Public-Private Partnerships).