THE South Korean government on Monday said it has extended a $100-million (P4.84-billion) loan to the Philippines to boost its war chest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The South Korean government, through the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank), and the Philippine government, through the Finance department, signed the agreement for the COVID-19 emergency response program loan on Oct. 29. It was cross-signed by mail, due to ongoing travel restrictions related to the pandemic.
In a statement released on Monday, the Korea Eximbank Manila office said the loan provides urgent budgetary support for the implementation of economic policies and development plans, and may be used as an emergency relief fund for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was the first and largest COVID-19-related bilateral assistance offered by the Republic of Korea to a partner country, so far,” it said.
Korea Eximbank has set aside $540 million (P26 billion) to help 14 developing economies with the pandemic response this year.
The loan is the third agreement the Philippines and South Korea signed under its $1-billion (P48.4-billion) Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) Framework Arrangement between 2017-2022, following the $172.64-million (P8.36-billion) loan for the New Cebu International Container Port Project and $50 million (P2.42 billion) for the Philippines-Korea Project Preparation Facility.
“Through this program loan, which is a type of budgetary support for policy establishment and implementation of COVID-19 response strategies, the government of Korea expresses its solidarity with the Philippines and the international community in the ongoing global battle against coronavirus. It is also hoped that this will further strengthen relations between Korea and the Philippines in the field of public health and safety in addition to diverse areas of cooperation over the past 70 years,” the Korea Exim Bank Manila office said.
Most of the financial aid from the EDCF funds infrastructure development, such as roads and bridges, and transportation projects.
“The ‘EDCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Program Loan’ helps further diversify the EDCF’s loan portfolio in the country; it is also particularly meaningful as, being the largest of its kind from Korea, it underscores the importance Korea places on its partnership with the Philippines,” it said.
As of Oct. 2, the government has secured $9.91 billion (P480 billion) worth of loans and grants from its bilateral and multilateral partners for its coronavirus pandemic response. — B.M. Laforga