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Freeze on loan talks affects BRT, climate change funding

freeze on loan talks affects brt climate change funding - Freeze on loan talks affects BRT, climate change funding

THE Department of Finance (DoF) said on Wednesday that two loan agreements being negotiated by the department were affected by a presidential order to suspend such talks with countries that backed a United Nations human rights investigation against the Philippines.

“There are two loans we are looking at. [The] 21 million euros from France supporting the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) program of DoTr (the Department of Transportation). We already found a substitute for that portion… that is a soft loan but we can get very similar terms from a multilateral agency,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said during a budget hearing before the Senate Finance Committee.

“The other set of loans is from Germany [which is] $46 million and that has to do with funding studies for climate change. It’s mostly the study and we are looking for a substitute for that program,” Mr. Dominguez said.

Minority leader Franklin M. Drilon had asked Mr. Dominguez about the effects of the suspension of loan talks.

Mr. Dominguez said that agencies have to inform the DoF or the Office of the President of loan programs that have been affected by the presidential order.

A total of 18 countries backed a United Nations resolution calling for a human rights investigation into the Philippines’ handling of its drug war: Australia, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the UK and Uruguay.

France and Germany did not vote but were co-sponsors of the resolution.

Meanwhile, the committee approved for plenary discussion the proposed P17.3-billion DoF budget for 2020.

“We will refer your budget to the plenary,” Finance Committee chairperson Juan Edgardo M. Angara said during the hearing.

The DoF proposed a budget 8% lower than its 2019 funding plan.

In the first eight months, the DoF said revenue collection by its agencies hit P2.09 trillion, up 9.5% from a year earlier, including P1.9 trillion from taxes.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) collections rose 10.6% during the period, while revenue generated by the Bureau of Customs rose 7.2%.

“We are confident this growth will be sustained in the coming period through continuing administrative reforms and the completion of the comprehensive tax reform program that will make our tax system simpler, fairer and more efficient. In both revenue agencies, we are automating processes and strengthening control measures against slippages,” Mr. Dominguez added.

The BIR proposed budget was P8.46 billion, a funding level expected to help “further improve the agency’s tax administration and enforcement capabilities.” — Marc Wyxzel C. dela Paz

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