US grants $213-M assistance for PH poverty reduction program

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Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III signed with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), in behalf of the Philippine government, a grant for the country’s five-year Economic Growth and Democratic Governance with Equity (EGDGE) program, which will be implemented until September 2025.

USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II signed the accord on behalf of his agency.

“We thank USAID for this latest support by the US government by way of a USD213 million grant for the Duterte administration’s paramount goal of accelerating poverty reduction and attaining financial inclusion for all Filipinos,” Dominguez said during the signing rites.

“This American aid in support of the overriding concern of the Duterte government underscores the strong and enduring bilateral ties between the US and the Philippines that transcend political chatters,” he added,

The EGDGE program “aims to advance poverty reduction, justice, and peace in the country, and seeks to advance macroeconomic fundamentals and open governance to promote inclusive growth for a more prosperous, self-reliant and stable Philippines.”

The grant of equivalent to about P10.8 billion. It covers  technical assistance on public financial management, domestic resource mobilization, public-private partnerships, a0nd inter-agency coordination; and assistance to develop and strengthen the capital markets, such as municipal bond financing and the promotion of innovative financial products.

It also includes assistance to improve regulatory governance by strengthening the capacity of public officials to develop transparent regulations and expanding opportunities for civil society advocacy for fair and open regulation, the DOF said.

The DOF serves as the program’s main implementing agency. It is also designed to improve the enabling environment for private infrastructure investments; and assist in technical advising, training, lending guarantees, and/or private sector partnerships to promote startups and small and medium-sized enterprise development.

The program is likewise envisioned to support sound urban management practices and investment development strategies to create new economic hubs in areas outside Metro Manila.

The governance aspect of the program will support anti-corruption institutions, spending agencies, and other relevant bodies in implementing reforms to improve transparency and accountability in public finance, the DOF said.

To further strengthen good governance, the EGDGE program will also assist in adopting global best practices in the extractive industry; and support in promoting the swift and fair administration of justice through arbitration and mediation.

Under the program, information technology (IT) will play a key role in improving judicial efficiency and expanding access to justice, and in supporting the use of appropriate e-governance tools. It will also assist in strengthening the country’s counter-trafficking institutions building the scale and sustainability of interventions, and targeting key hotspots and sectors.

The EGDGE program also aims to promote interaction among local governments, civil society, and the private sector in activities that may include increasing third-party oversight of large-scale high-risk procurement projects.

The EGDGE grant was endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs last May 27 and confirmed by the National Economic and Development Authority Board,  chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte, on June 3.

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