The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $200-million loan to support the Philippine government’s effort to provide emergency cash subsidies to vulnerable households amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“This global pandemic, of a kind not seen in the last century, has disrupted the livelihoods of millions of Filipinos and could set back the very substantial gains the country has made in reducing poverty in recent years,” ADB Vice-President Ahmed Saeed said in a statement.
Saeed said the new loan supports the government’s emergency subsidy program, which was designed to “help vulnerable households get through this very difficult period and avoid falling into poverty.”
High, sustained economic growth and job creation in recent years and the government’s social assistance programs have combined to reduce the Philippines’ national poverty rate from 23.3 percent in 2015 to 16.6 percent in 2018, translating to 5.9 million Filipinos escaping poverty during this period.
On March 24, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”— or Republic Act No. 11469— authorizing the government to implement a Covid-19 emergency subsidy program that provides cash payments of PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 (USD100 to USD158) per month for two months to 18 million low-income families nationwide.
This large program includes 4.3 million poor households covered under the country’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). ADB has been supporting the 4Ps CCT program since 2010.
ADB’s USD200-million loan, under the Social Protection Support Project–Second Additional Financing, will contribute to the USD726 million required to provide emergency subsidies to 4Ps households in April and May 2020.
The loan is part of ADB’s comprehensive support to the Philippines to mitigate the damaging effects of the pandemic on the economy and well-being of Filipinos.
It comes after the signing of the USD1.5-billion loan for ADB’s COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support program on April 23.
Two grants approved in March totaling USD8 million are supporting the delivery of food baskets to at least 140,000 vulnerable households in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, purchase of emergency medical supplies, and setting up of a new laboratory that will increase the country’s Covid-19 testing capacity by 3,000 tests a day.
ADB is also preparing an Expanded Social Assistance Project to support the government’s medium-term financing of the 4Ps program.