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February 13, 2009

Global lender plans loan boost for Philippines
The World Bank is planning to boost loans to the Philippines by up to $1 billion a year from 2009 until 2012 despite banning several firms which the banks said rigged bidding for a roads project, Reuters quoted a top government official as saying Thursday.

The multilateral bank aims to increase its lending to Manila by an average of $700 million to $1 billion a year until 2012, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said in a statement, citing the institution's proposed Country Assistance Strategy.

Loans to the Southeast Asian nation by the Washington-based global development lender dropped to $2.7 billion in fiscal 2008, or 2.8 percent of the bank's total lending, from $3.1 billion in fiscal 2005, equivalent to 3.0 percent of its overall portfolio.

The planned increase would boost the Philippines' share of total World Bank lending to 3.6 percent in 2012, according to the bank's assistance strategy.

"They have seen that we are serious in our efforts to improve governance and that we are not letting up in our fight against corruption," Teves said.

Last month the World Bank said it had uncovered a major cartel involving local and international firms bidding on a Philippine roads project and had barred seven companies, including four state-owned Chinese firms.

The bank's corruption-fighting unit said the companies were blacklisted for "engaging in collusive practices" during the bidding of the World Bank funded-project.

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