MANILA -- The Philippine government has yet to tap development assistance from the European Union (EU) as another source of financing for its massive infrastructure program ‘Build, Build, Build’, the EU envoy said Friday.
“It’s not something that the government approached us,” EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen told reporters on the sidelines of Innovation in Infrastructure Congress.
The Duterte administration favors financing projects under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program through taxes, official development assistance, and commercial loans.
During the event, the envoy said the EU launched the European External Investment Plan (EIP) in 2017, which is a framework cooperation of EU with international financial institutions, donors, public authorities, and private sector.
“While the External Investment Plan will initially cover the European neighborhood region and Africa, it has already started to inspire the EU's approach in other regions and in Asia,” Jessen said.
“The EU has traditionally provided development grants. Now it seeks increasingly to ensure that they are complemented by other sources of finance,” he added.
EU data showed that the Philippines received USD177 million in development assistance from EU institutions and member states in 2016.
Jessen noted that investing in infrastructure is crucial to deliver essential services to the people.
Infrastructure is also the backbone of economic development and job creation, the envoy added.
European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) Executive Director Florian Gottein said the business community is also seeking for investment opportunities in the ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program.
“We are particularly keen to identify which aspects of the program the business community can provide further support to make sure that the program keeps moving in the right direction,” Gottein said.
He noted one of the top concerns of businessmen in investing in a country is its global competitiveness, particularly the infrastructure present in a country.
“In fact, infrastructure is ranked as the second most important business concern, after inefficient government bureaucracy and ranked just before corruption,” said Gottein.
“From our point of view as a business organization, the more competitive the Philippines is seen by the international business community, the easier it would be to convince European companies to invest and to do business here in the country,” he added. (PNA)