The new administration of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is seeking a $300 million loan from the World Bank to finance a digital transformation program.
This brings the total amount of low-interest, concessional loans to be sought under the Marcos Jr. regime to $2.14 billion to date, according to Inquirer.
The latest loan is expected to be approved in fiscal year 2024, which starts in July of next year.
World Bank documents showed that the proposed Philippines first digital transformation development policy financing aims to catalyse "private investment for an inclusive economic recovery through digital transformation."
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno had proposed shoring up government revenues by improving tax administration through digitalization, in order to bring the budget deficit back to pre-pandemic levels equivalent to about 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2028.
However, Marcos Jr. and his chief economic manager were not in favor or new or higher taxes, which former President Duterte’s economic team had proposed in order to repay debts incurred during the ongoing pandemic, and narrow the record deficit wrought by large public spending to fight COVID-19.
Documents last May showed that in December, the World Bank will lend the Philippines $200 million for the second financial sector reform development policy financing aimed at "achieving a resilient, inclusive and sustainable financial sector."
According to local media reports, the World Bank noted that with less than six months left before the project’s closing date and given the lack of implementation progress, “an extension cannot be justified.”
This was after Washington-based multilateral lender has approved the Philippines’ request for a $178.1 million loan aimed at combating malnutrition and stunting in the country.
The World Bank also said millions of Filipinos who belong to vulnerable households and businesses were rescued out of poverty, thanks to the “Bayanihan” stimulus packages of the government.
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