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Development Aid
July 30, 2007

World Bank urges Philippines to make better use of aid funds
The World Bank said on July 30 it has asked the Philippines to make better use of hundreds of millions of dollars lent by the multilateral agency every year, AFP reported.

For 2007, just 15.2% of the total aid pledged by the World Bank had been disbursed so far, slower than in the previous year and below the 20 percent agreed target, it said in a statement.

The actual amounts released in 2007 and 2006 both stood at around US$137.2 million, compared to the pledged amounts of US$410 million and US$395 million.

"The slow disbursement is attributed mainly to issues linked to insufficient level of readiness, complex project design, slow progress in policy reforms on which the release of loans is hinged, and delays in budget approval and/or release by the government," the World Bank added.

World Bank country director Maryse Gautier met President Gloria Arroyo's economic managers on Friday to address implementation bottlenecks, the lender said.

One aid program involves the building of 3,660 new classrooms and the repair of 13,801 others. Gautier urged Manila to use "efficient modes of school construction" so they are "finished on time at reasonable cost and without any reported anomalies."

The review rated 54% of the World Bank-funded projects for 2007 as "satisfactory," a slight improvement from the previous year's 52%. Some 32% were rated moderately satisfactory and are closely being monitored, while three projects remain unsatisfactory, it added.

"To improve project performance and quality of assistance, the World Bank recommended a closer monitoring of projects and simplification of project design for easier implementation.

"Strengthening country systems such as in procurement and financial management, as well as in managing social and environmental risks will likewise be important," the bank said.

Gautier said she expects Manila's World Bank loan use to pick up to 31% as the government taps into funds meant to support its reform agenda in key sectors. AFP

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