The House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading the measure ensuring the effectiveness of loans and grants from Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Voting 166 affirmative, 0 negative and 0 abstention, lawmakers passed on Monday House Bill 10322 to ensure the effective and efficient utilization of all ODA loans and grants, and maximize the benefits that can be derived from these.
The measure will now be transmitted to the Senate for its own deliberations.
If enacted, the bill will also continue to require that the grant portion of the ODA consist of at least 25 percent of the aid package.
It will also require that the ODA be administered with the specific objective of achieving sustained reduction of poverty and inequality.
The measure will also require studies on the project’s social and economic impact and the consultation of targeted groups.
The bill said a Congressional Oversight Committee will also be created to monitor and ensure proper implementation of the proposed law and review ODA grants and loan agreements entered into by the national government. It will have the authority to initiate independent impact studies on ODA-funded projects.
ODAs are concessional financing provided by multilateral banks or foreign governments to poorer countries to promote economic development.
The bill amends Republic Act 8182 or Official Development Assistance Act of 1996 objectives in administering ODA loans to include promoting and achieving sustained reduction of poverty and inequality, supporting enjoyment of
human rights, democracy, environmental sustainability, and gender equality.
For his part, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, principal author of the measure, said his proposal allows the yield on recently-issued government bonds to serve as the discount rate benchmark when estimating the present value of debt service on grants, if such yields are lower than the 10 percent fixed rate set by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
“ODAs are useful when they work for the people. When the terms are fair, the spending is efficient, and the process is accountable and transparent, ODAs are good. This measure aims to keep them good,” Salceda said.
“The fact that both the members of the majority and the Makabayan bloc were authors of this proposal shows the unanimity with which the House regards making our debts work for the Filipino people,” Salceda added.
Salceda said that he supported the measure as “the institutionalization of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness” in the Philippines.
The Paris Declaration of 2005 “gives a series of specific implementation measures and establishes a monitoring system to assess progress and ensure that donors and recipients hold each other accountable for their commitments.”