Philippines eyes MCA funding

The Philippines has estimated PHP325.57 billion ($6.84 billions) in total borrowing for 2008, with 30 percent raised from foreign commercial loans and Official Development Assistance, including a grant from the U.S. bilateral fund, the Millennium Challenge Account. Philippine Finance Secretary Margarito Teves hopes that an upcoming presentation in November to the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), the fund’s manager, will finally qualify the country for broader assistance under the Compact program. “At present, we are about 0.1 percent below the median and it should be easy to go over that in order to get more funding,” he said. To date, the Philippines only has access to small grants, such as the $21 million Philippines Threshold Program intended to develop revenue administration and fight corruption. Teves enumerated three pre-requisites laid down by the MCC for the country to be eligible for compact funding, namely: higher spending for immunization, primary education and health services, quicker start up process for businesses in the country, and sustained performance in generating state revenue. (Sources: Philippine gov’t to borrow over 6 bln USD for 2008/Xinhua; RP seeking more aid from US special fund/The Philippine Star)

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