OPEC institution offers funding for “Build, Build, Build” projects

A financial institution established by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to help reduce poverty in developing countries has offered its assistance to the Philippines in funding the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization program.

During a recent meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, key officials of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), reiterated the institution’s “keen interest to assist and collaborate” with the Philippine government in carrying out its priority programs.

Dominguez, in turn, said OFID can help fund projects to help rebuild the devastated city of Marawi in Mindanao and participate in the development of New Clark City in Pampanga, where an alternative international airport is being built and a new government center will rise.

Artist sketch of how the New Clark City will look like once completed in year December 2020. Photo courtesy BCDA
Maria Cristina Hydro Electric Power Plant (former name of the Agus VI Plant) was constructed in 1950 through the authorization of then late Pres. Elpidio Quirino. The falls cascaded around 320 feet down a shear cliff and is only 8.5 kilometers southwest of Iligan City. (Photo courtesy Napocor)

The finance chief also mentioned the rehabilitation of the Agus power plant system in Mindanao that is currently operating at only 40 percent capacity.

Anajulia Taylhardat, OFID’s director for Asia, said during the meeting that the institution would be “very happy to support” these types of projects, and that it is “very interested in working” on the rehabilitation of the Agus power plants.

“We know that one of the challenges is to have—your target is especially poverty alleviation and employment generating opportunities. We are here to reiterate our keen interest to assist and collaborate with the government and support your plans,” said Taylhardat during her meeting with Dominguez.

Musab Alomar, OFID’s public sector operations officer, was also present at the meeting.

OFID, established in 1976, has for 13 member-countries, namely: Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon. Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Dominguez thanked OFID for its interest in helping fund the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program and development projects and said Philippine officials will continue to explore possible financing or co-financing opportunities with the institution.

“We are very happy that you have an interest to help us,” Dominguez said.

OFID’s portfolio in the Philippines since 1977 consists of 14 loans amounting to $173.25 million, of which two are ongoing with commitments amounting to $51.609 million.

These ongoing projects are the $30 million Road Improvement and Institutional Development Project (RIIDP), which aims to finance the periodic maintenance of about 340 kilometers of national roads on the west coast of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao; and the $21.609 million Agrarian Reform Communities Project 2, which provides continued support to the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Both projects are co-financed with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).