The World Bank has approved two project loans worth 900 million dollars to support the Philippines’ efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and improve competitiveness, the multilateral development bank said on Thursday.

Ndiame Diop, the World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, disclosed this in Manila.

The loan will also be used to build resilience against shocks and natural disasters.

The first 600 million-dollar project will support reforms meant to hasten the adoption of digital technologies, promote greater competition, and reduce the costs of doing business to revive more economic activities and jobs.

These will help small and medium-sized enterprises bounce back from the coronavirus epidemic and help citizens cope with social distancing measures and other health protocols.

They will also help to improve the delivery of social assistance to the most disadvantaged groups in society, the bank said.

“Reforms to improve digital infrastructure and speed up adoption of digital technologies will not only help the country’s efforts to recover from the impacts of the pandemic but will also boost its export competitiveness.

“This will be vital for creating more and better jobs in the future,” Diop said.

The bank said the second 300 million-dollar project will help to address poverty in poor rural communities.

According to the bank, the additional funding will provide grants to finance community-identified and community-managed responses that restore or improve basic social services to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will also help to address the impact of other disasters that affect the poorest and most vulnerable municipalities.

Using community-driven development, the bank said poor communities are expected to organise themselves, analyse their situation, prepare project proposals to address common problems, and compete for block grants to finance their projects.

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In the COVID-19 context, the bank said the communities can secure funding for isolation facilities, improvements in water and sanitation, and construction or upgrading of health stations.

Community members are also responsible for the implementation and maintenance of these projects, the bank said.


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