The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US$200mil (RM871mil) loan to support the Philippine government’s effort to provide emergency cash subsidies to vulnerable households amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This global pandemic, of a kind not seen in the last century, has disrupted the livelihoods of millions of Filipinos and could set back the very substantial gains the country has made in reducing poverty in recent years, ” ADB vice-president Ahmed Saeed said.
Saeed said “The new loan supports the government’s emergency subsidy programme, which was designed to help vulnerable households get through this very difficult period and avoid falling into poverty.”
The Manila-based bank said high, sustained economic growth and job creation in recent years and the government’s social assistance programmes have combined to reduce the Philippines’ national poverty rate from 23.3% in 2015 to 16.6% in 2018, translating to 5.9 million Filipinos escaping poverty during this period.
On March 24, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Republic Act No. 11469, authorising the government to implement a Covid-19 emergency subsidy programme that provides cash payments of 5,000 pesos to 8,000 pesos (RM429 to RM686) per month for two months to 18 million low-income families nationwide.
This large programme includes 4.3 million poor households covered under the country’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
ADB has been supporting the 4Ps CCT programme since 2010.
The ADB said its US$200mil loan, under the Social Protection Support Project-Second Additional Financing, will contribute to the US$726mil (RM3.1bil) required to provide emergency subsidies to 4Ps households in April and May 2020.
It added the loan is part of ADB’s comprehensive support to the Philippines to mitigate the damaging effects of the pandemic on the economy and well-being of Filipinos.
It comes after the signing of the US$1.5bil (RM6.5bil) loan for ADB’s Covid-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support programme on April 23.
Two grants approved in March totalling US$8mil (RM34.8mil) are supporting the delivery of food baskets to at least 140,000 vulnerable households in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, purchase of emergency medical supplies, and setting up of a new laboratory that will increase the country’s Covid-19 testing capacity by 3,000 tests a day. — Xinhua
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