PHL, China sign US$219-M loan accord on the Project Management Consultancy for the PNR South Long H

BEIJING—The Philippines and China signed here Thursday (Aug.29) an agreement for a US$219.78 million Preferential Buyer’s Credit facility to fund the Project Management Consultancy for the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long Haul Project.

This infrastructure project under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program will link Metro Manila to Legazpi, Albay; Legaspi to Matnog in Sorsogon; and Calamba, Laguna to Batangas City.

The services to be rendered by the Project Management Consultancy cover the detailed engineering and design; preparation of the terms of reference (TOR) and bidding documents for a Design and Build procurement for the civil works, rolling stock, and electromechanical system; and the construction supervision, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

According to the DOF, the project management consultant will also provide tender assistance, which includes, among others, the market study, administration of the Limited Competitive Bidding, and Tender award to the contractors and suppliers.

President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the exchange of the signed loan agreement between Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Export-Import Bank of China Vice President Xie Ping at the Diaoyutai State Guest House here.

The dollar-denominated loan has an interest rate of 2 percent per annum with a maturity period of 20 years, inclusive of a 7-year grace period, the DOF said.

Presidents Duterte and Xi also witnessed the exchange of notes between Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirming the cooperation procedures and arrangements that will enable the Philippines to avail of Chinese concessional loans under a Renminbi-denominated loan facility.

This loan facility between the DOF and the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) will help support the Duterte administration’s major projects that will promote economic and social development.

Two accords were also signed by Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero of the Philippines’ Bureau of Customs (BOC) with Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and Minister Ni Yuefeng of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).

These are the Implementation Agreement with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on China’s donation of four mobile x-ray container vehicle inspection systems and two luggage inspection systems to the Philippines, and a separate intergovernmental accord with GACC defining the scope and guidelines that aim to strengthen the cooperation and mutual assistance on customs matters between the two countries.

Dominguez earlier said the agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance covers GACC’s commitment to assist the BOC in monitoring and stopping the entry into the Philippines of unauthorized cigarette-making machines originating from China.

The Finance Secretary directed the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) earlier this year to work with their respective counterparts in China to stop the illicit entry of cigarette-making machines that are being used to manufacture counterfeit tobacco products in the country.

Dominguez issued the order after confirming from BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay that the illegal tobacco trade has shifted from smuggling cigarettes to producing locally counterfeit brands using undocumented cigarette-making machines acquired mostly from China.

Guerrero had reiterated the Philippines’ concern over the entry into the country of unauthorized cigarette-making machines originating from China to the Chinese vice minister of the GACC on the sidelines of the 28th ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting held last June in Laos.