This was the first courtesy visit by Mr. Asakawa to the Philippine President. He thanked Mr. Duterte for the Philippine government’s first-ever contribution to the Asian Development Fund, which provides grants to ADB’s lower-income developing member countries in Asia and the Pacific to reduce poverty and improve people’s quality of life.

At the dinner hosted by the Philippine government after the courtesy visit, Mr. Asakawa congratulated the Philippine government for its remarkable success in bringing down the national poverty rate to 16.6% in 2018 from 23.3% in 2015, thanks to the country’s high economic growth rates, job creation, and expanded social assistance programs. The government aims to further reduce the national poverty rate to 14% by 2022.

“ADB’s partnership with our host country, the Philippines, has never been stronger,” said Mr. Asakawa. “ADB is committed to supporting the government’s effort to reduce poverty and create high quality jobs for Filipinos by building a competitive economy and caring society.”

Mr. Asakawa also met with Philippine Finance Secretary and ADB Governor Carlos G. Dominguez and reiterated ADB’s full support for the country’s growth and development goals, including the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure development program and the peace and economic development initiative in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In addition, they discussed ways to improve cooperation between multilateral development institutions, particularly ADB and the World Bank. Mr. Asakawa noted that it will be one of his key priorities.

ADB lending to the Philippines is planned to reach a record high of USD3.3 billion this year, with about half supporting the government’s infrastructure program. This will likely include priority projects such as the South Commuter Railway, the EDSA Greenways Pedestrian Walkways, and the Angat Water Transmission Aqueduct 7, as well as initiatives to boost social protection, sustainable tourism, and capital market development.

Last year, ADB’s sovereign lending to the Philippines totaled USD2.5 billion, up from USD1.4 billion in 2018. The USD2.75 billion Malolos–Clark Railway Project, one of the government’s major infrastructure investments, is ADB’s largest project financing in the Asia and Pacific region to date. Construction work is expected to begin by the middle of this year./.

Khac Kien