The Philippines was the World Bank’s top borrower for the fiscal year 2021, as the country struggles to look for funds to support its fight against COVID-19.
According to a report by Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippine government has borrowed as much as $3.07 billion from the World Bank across eight operations and loans for the period between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. This was almost double the $1.87 billion borrowings in the fiscal year 2020.
The Philippines grabbed the top spot from India which borrowed as much as $2.65 billion in the fiscal year 2021.
Following the Philippines and India were Indonesia with $2.2 billion; Morocco with $1.8 billion; Mexico with $1.73 billion; Turkey with $1.5 billion; Colombia with $1.35 billion; Brazil with $1.33 billion; Argentina with $1.24 billion; and China with $1.23 billion.
Through its lending arm International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the World Bank committed to loan $6.21 billion to the Philippines for the period between 2017 and 2021.
Of the total, gross disbursements to date amounted to $5.47 billion, while the unreleased balance from the said loans amounted to $2.74 billion.
In its 2021 annual report, the World Bank said that the Philippines had the biggest output gap of 8.4 percent in the East Asia and Pacific region in 2020.
The output gap reflected the difference between pre-pandemic economic potential against actual performance amid the pandemic.
The World Bank underscored that the Philippines was among the countries which benefited from its fast-track facility for emergency COVID-19 response.
In addition, it said it also extended loans for other Philippine initiatives such as conditional cash transfers for the poor, customs modernization, disaster resilience and recovery, peace-building in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and various agriculture projects.
Among the near-term lending pipeline for the Philippines included 11 upcoming project loans amounting to $2.54 billion, some of which are scheduled for board approval before the end of this year while some are scheduled for 2022.