President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, May 5, thanked the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for its key role in supporting projects in the country, especially in Mindanao, as he renewed his commitment to improve the plight of ordinary Filipinos through massive infrastructure development with assistance from major financial institutions and investors.
In his keynote speech during the 51st Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank held at the EDSA Shangri-La, the President thanked the ADB, whose headquarters is in Manila, for its continuous assistance to the Philippines’ development initiatives.
“Over the years, the ADB has evolved into a persevering ally and formidable partner of the Philippines as it zigzagged its way towards sustainable and enduring growth and development,” the President said.
“The fact that several decades ago, the ADB chose the Philippines as its headquarters in this part of the world continues to inspire and suffuse us with immeasurable pride,” he said.
“Your presence since then is proof of your faith in the capacity of the Philippines to exorcise its financial and economic demons. Your contribution to our country’s development is too evident to be ignored, and we cannot thank you enough for that,” he added.
The President noted that over the past two years, the Philippines’ gross domestic products (GDP) growth rate averaged 6.8 percent, with a target to sustain a growth rate of seven percent in the next few years.
“This will enable us to achieve and sustain our goal of bringing down the poverty rate to only 14 percent by 2022,” he said, noting that his administration’s goal is not just to further develop the economy but to make sure that it trickles down to the masses.
Duterte said a key element to ensure sustainable growth is through a massive infrastructure program.
“Build, build, and build and we Link and link and link — that is the battle cry of the moment. Build and link all these islands and all communities so that united in purpose and acting as one, we will bring our infrastructure base to match or even surpass those of the neighboring economies. That will allow us to [compete] for investments on even or more attractive terms,” Duterte said.
He also noted the need to fix the transportation system and stop corruption, and continue the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
He also said his administration will focus its development on Mindanao, which has been neglected by the central government for decades.
“With the massive infrastructure investments, we expect Mindanao to lead in the nation’s growth. These investments shall be accompanied by intensive efforts and reforms in governance,” Duterte said.
“To realize our potentials, we have to extract the wealth from the earth’s bosom. Thus, we shall continue to rely on the Asian Development Bank for financial assistance, be it in the form of loans or grants,” he said.
ADB has been one of the country’s source of development fund. Records show that as of December 2017, ADB is the country’s third largest source of official development assistance (ODA) with 14 active loans and 17 grants.
Cumulative assistance to the Philippines has reached 213 public sector loans amounting to $16.85 billion. The public sector loans amounting to 28 grants stand at $82.6 million.