A Comprehensive Audit, Not Selective Rejection of Aid
MANILA, Philippines—A comprehensive audit of public debt and related policies is what the Filipinos need, not an impulsive and selective rejection of development aid from a critic of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, debt watchdog Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said in a press release on Tuesday.
“The President’s recent decision to reject EU aid with conditionalities interfering with the Philippines’ internal affairs and the huge loans from China and other lenders for the administration’s ambitious infrastructure program should sound a sense of urgency for Congress to examine whether public debt, the government’s borrowing policies and institutional arrangements on debt management are serving the interest of the people,” said Sammy Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General.
Gamboa added that the Duterte government is already on the right track with the approval in the 2017 General Appropriations Act of a provision for an audit of 20 national government foreign loans being challenged by FDC as fraudulent.
FDC’s initial research found that the 20 loans were marred by corruption, bloated budgets, violations of legal procedures, lack or insufficient public consultations and used as lender’s conditionality for privatization of essential services such as power and water.
“The findings of a comprehensive audit will provide the basis for the steps that the government can take to address loans that do not benefit the Filipino people, particularly those deemed to have facilitated the lenders’ agenda in the country’s affairs through debt conditionalities,” Gamboa said.
Section 95 of the 2017 GAA mandates the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Official Development Assistance Law (COCODA) to implement the audit on the 20 loans, many of which came from the Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the World Bank.
However, FDC laments that COCODA has not reconvened yet. Almost half of the year has passed but the House Panel, led by the Chairperson of the Committee on Ways and Means, has not even been reconstituted.
“The President’s rejection of EU aid and active solicitation of borrowed capital from other lenders affirm the immediate need for a comprehensive audit to determine the legitimacy of existing and new loans and whether these should be rejected, cancelled or even repudiated,” said Gamboa. ###
23 May 2017
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