By ALI G. MACABALANG
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Finance (DOF) of the Philippines signed recently a new five-year bilateral assistance agreement worth 10.5-billion pesos or $213 million to boost the country’s economic development and growth, the U.S. embassy announced.
This agreement enables USAID and the Philippines to deepen their commitment to accelerate inclusive, broad-based economic growth through policies that increase investment and trade across the country, said the embassy in a Sept. 28 statement sent to The Philippine Muslim Today.
New programs and activities will promote inclusive, market-driven growth; improve business environment; expand economic opportunities through private-sector led innovation for medium and small businesses; and increase information and communications technology access for the digital economy that benefits both producers and consumers, the statement said.
Related activities also include strengthening local civil society organizations to advance local programming and policy-making in the Philippines and facilitating coalitions and partnerships between government and other stakeholders toward data-driven decision-making, it added.
The embassy said USAID will continue to rally Philippine government objectives by improving public sector transparency and accountability; advancing the rule of law and the justice system; and boosting local governments’ responsiveness to Filipinos’ needs.
“This new USAID and Department of Finance bilateral agreement will expand our support to help the Philippines achieve long-term, private sector-led economic growth and strengthen economic governance. These programs will create jobs and help ensure more inclusive, broad-based economic development,” said USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II.
The bilateral deal is one of four new, five-year USAID-Government of Philippines Development Assistance Agreements launching in 2020, with an anticipated total value of Php32.7 billion ($675 million) over five years. The other new agreements include:
· Department of Health: To improve underserved Filipinos’ health by strengthening health systems while improving the quality of health services, especially in treating tuberculosis, providing access to those who seek family planning services, and community-based drug dependence treatment;
National Economic Development Authority: To protect ecosystems by promoting sustainable use of natural resources, enhance energy security, and build capacity to mitigate risks and respond to natural disasters; and
Department of Education: To improve early grade reading, expand science and mathematics curricula, and increase out-of-school youths’ access to education, professional, and technical skills development that will lead to new job opportunities, and strengthen education governance.
Over the past 20 years, the U.S. has provided nearly Php228.8 billion ($4.5 billion) in total assistance to advance the country’s development goals, the embassy statement said. (AGM)