November 27, 2007

GMA orders review of all foreign-funded projects

By Christine Avendaño, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Inquirer, 11/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — With the World Bank still not moving to lift its suspension of deliberations on the $232-million soft loan intended for Philippine road projects, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has issued a string of instructions to ensure that foreign-assisted and funded projects would be free of irregularities.

The instructions, which include a review of the road projects covered by the suspended WB loan, were contained in Administrative Order No. 210.

Cabinet officials, meanwhile, snubbed Monday the Senate probe of the suspended $232-million WB loan, due to corruption, as they pressed for more time to prepare their defense.

(The rest at GMA orders review.)

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THIS is of course, another face-saving measure for the Presidentita's guilt-wracked administration after having been humiliated by the announced suspension of a World Bank-financed project due to corruption allegations.

I'm amazed, however, that as NEDA Board chairman, the Presidentita seems to have forgotten that those reviews are actually in place in several departments in the NEDA. If I recall correctly, every year, for instance, there is a regular meeting between the Asian Development Bank and key NEDA staff to review projects that have been financed, amounts that have been disbursed so far, in an attempt to pinpoint possible causes of delays or blockages in certain projects.

I have no doubt that the same evaluation meetings are also conducted regularly with the World Bank and other donors such as the governments of the U.S., Japan, Korea, Spain, and the like. After all, these multilateral agencies and donor countries are not the types to just overlook where their taxpayers' monies are being spent, so a close watch on the activities of their beneficiaries are in place.

Whether the same kind of monitoring system is being implemented for ahem, China-funded projects, is anybody's guess though. But of course, since the emasculation of NEDA by this sitting president, who knows if tight controls on foreign funded projects are still really in place.

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