The Philippines is seeking strengthened support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the country's infrastructure push, both physical and digital, and in improving the capacities of small businesses.

During the Business Session of the 57th ADB Annual Meeting here, the Philippines delivered its statement through Finance Undersecretary and temporary alternate ADB governor Joven Balbosa.

Balbosa said the Philippines is hoping that the development of the new country strategy partnership (CPS) for the Philippines over the next five years will serve as a guiding framework in improving the country's development path toward greater inclusion, climate resilience and competitiveness.

'We encourage the ADB to further strengthen its support in enhancing physical and digital connectivity that will increase infrastructure investments,' Balbosa said.

'There is an enormous opportunity for ADB to develop and improve the capacities of our micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),' he said.

MSMEs comprise almost 99 percent of the country's business sector.

Unfortunately, the sector was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, with most of them still in the process of recovering.

As ADB crafts the new CPS, the Philippines maintained that the bank has an important role in the country's digitalization efforts as well as in bolstering human capital development particularly in education and nutrition sectors.

ADB is still in the process of preparing the new CPS through consultations and analytical diagnostic work. It will be presented to the ADB Board in early August for approval.

The new CPS will cover this year until 2029 with the idea to overlap it with the new administration by 2028.

Further, the government urged ADB to scale up efforts in providing support to financing long-term sustainable development priorities of developing member countries such as the Philippines.

Last year, the Philippines was the biggest recipient of combined ADB loans and grants worth $8.4 billion.

Over the past year, the bank has supported key projects related to business and employment, agriculture, inclusive finance and critical infrastructure projects.

'We are confident that ADB will remain as one of our most dependable development partners as we work to fully address the persistent issues on gender, climate vulnerability, inequality and high rates of poverty,' Balbosa said.

Likewise, the Philippines is optimistic that ADB will further improve its operational approaches and financial capacities to maximize its potential in providing more grants and additional concessional financing resources.

Such is aimed at supporting developing countries in addressing the gaps and complex challenges in the global development landscape.

To facilitate swift and efficient project implementation, the Philippines encouraged ADB to revisit and ensure that its safeguards standards and policies are streamlined, with sufficient consideration of domestic regulatory frameworks.

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