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OPINION

Letter to the Editor (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Leonora Aquino-Gonzales

July 27, 2010

To the Editor in Chief of the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

This is to inform the ongoing discussion on the alleged “conflict of interest situation in the case of the government and the World Bank” (PDI, July 11, 2010, page A4).

The issue was raised whether a WB staff member related to a government official could influence government decision to borrow from the World Bank?  The answer is: clearly not.  Processing and approval of loans from the World Bank is a thorough process that involves numerous technical and non-technical staff in many government agencies, as well as several units and departments within the World Bank. Not one single staff of the World Bank could influence the decision to borrow (in the case of the Government) or to lend (in the case of the World Bank.)

The World Bank’s assistance program in the Philippines is governed by the three-year Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) agreed with the Philippine Government and discussed with many stakeholders.  The CAS supports the Government’s Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP).  Every six months, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) conducts programming discussions with government sectoral agencies as well as bilateral and multilateral agencies to discuss priorities and programs of assistance. 

The Philippine Government has its own internal process which involves technical and non-technical staff and several steps, including NEDA sector staff review, Investment Coordinating Committee (the ICC is an interagency body composed of oversight and sectoral agencies), Technical Board Review, ICC Cabinet Committee Review, NEDA Board confirmation and review and approval by the Monetary Board.  Then the Office of the President issues authority to negotiate and the Department of Finance signs the loan agreement between the World Bank and the Government. 

On the World Bank side, from the programming discussions, a project goes through a “project concept note review meeting,” chaired by the Country Director, and after preparation through a “decision review meeting” chaired by sector management.  After Loan Negotiation with the Government, the Board of Executive Directors approves.  All 187 member countries of the World Bank, including the Philippines, are represented in the Board.  Documents related to these programs and projects are accessible to the general public through our website www.worldbank.org.ph.

The World Bank is fully committed to transparency, integrity, and professionalism. We abide by safeguards that ensure that our assistance is consistent with our agreement with the Filipino people and the Government’s policies and strategies.

Very truly yours,

Leonora Aquino-Gonzales
Head of External Relations
World Bank Philippines