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$10-B from IMF not World Bank

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Arroyo based statement from Teves–trade chief

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:45:00 10/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 3) There was after all a commitment for a $10-billion standby fund for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but it came from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), not the World Bank (WB), Malacañang said Thursday, revising it earlier statement on the issue.

Trade Secretary Peter Favila said Finance Secretary Margarito Teves called him up from Washington on Thursday afternoon saying that, after checking his notes, he confirmed that it was the IMF that made the pledge.

“He [Teves] went over his notes and saw it was the IMF, not the World Bank,” Favila told Malacañang reporters.

“The IMF mentioned a $10-billion facility for Southeast Asia, not the World Bank,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto told ANC television separately.

Recto said the allocation for each country was computed based on the size of its economy, and $1.3 billion was projected for the Philippines.

“As far as the Philippines is concerned, there is an available standard facility of roughly $1.3 billion. This facility is for those countries that have problem regarding balance of payments, we do not have a problem and therefore we might not even need the facility,” he said.

Earlier Thursday, Favila took pains to explain the World Bank’s denial of an announcement by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Wednesday that it had committed $10 billion for an ASEAN standby fund amid a global economic crisis.

Favila said the President made her announcement based on a report from Teves following a first round of meetings with the World Bank in Washington.

“The amount of $10 billion, as confirmed by Secretary Teves, was conveyed by him [to the President] after the initial meeting in Washington. It was a private closed door meeting with the ASEAN finance ministers, the $10 billion was discussed,” he said earlier.

But during a second meeting, the World Bank made no commitment for a $10-billion funding, and instead proposed a bilateral approach that would see it dealing with ASEAN member countries individually, Favila said.

“Ang lumabas, hindi solid for ASEAN [It turned out that it would not be solid for
ASEAN]… They are shifting discussions from a regional facility to a bilateral facility,” Favila said.

The President was not informed of the results of the second meeting, he said.

Asked how the President took the World Bank’s denial, Favila said: “She said I got my inputs from my own finance secretary who was there during those meetings.”

Favila said the President was not aware of the results of the second meeting in Washington when she announced the $10-billion facility in two speeches at the Palace on Wednesday.

“I would not even say anyone is at fault here. As Secretary Teves had said, all the discussions started as exploratory preliminary in character. Everything is possible,” the trade chief said.

Favila even tossed the blame at two World Bank officials who denied the President’s announcements in news reports — Jim Adams, the bank’s vice president for East Asia, and a certain Bert Hoffman.

Favila said the two officials’ statements contradicted each other.

“There’s a problem between Hoffman and his boss. We in the Philippines, we are well coordinated, we are well polished,” Favila said.

The $10-billion standby fund was the Philippines’ proposal, Favila said, adding the President wanted it hammered out in time for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing, China next week.

In a text message to the President, which Favila read to reporters, Teves said he was “rather surprised” by the World Bank’s denial.

Teves told the President that the ASEAN Secretariat was working on “implementing mechanisms” for a facility that would be “fairly sizeable, quick disbursing, and with minimum conditionalities.”

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-10-16T08:46:34+00:00UTC10bUTCThu, 16 Oct 2008 08:46:34 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized

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