Philippines considers pivot to Japan to help finance railway projects, after funding shortfall stalls China deals
- The new Marcos administration is trying to finance three rail projects after Beijing turned down the previous government’s request for funding
- In 2012, another China-backed railway plan, the Northrail project was dropped after former president Benigno Aquino said the initiative was overpriced
“We want to have different options. We want to see to it that these options are available and it will really fast track the construction and implementation of these projects.”
The Department of Transportation in July said Beijing turned down the previous government’s request for funding for the Philippine National Railway Bicol line, Subic-Clark railway and Mindanao railway projects, prompting both sides to go back to the negotiating table.
Bautista last week restarted discussions on the stalled projects with Chinese envoy Huang Xilian, who pledged to give Manila a “good deal” after the government believed Beijing’s 3 per cent interest rate was expensive as Japan offered 0.01 per cent.
“Six years may not be enough but if we do it right, we should be able to substantially complete the projects before Marcos Jnr’s term ends,” he said.
In his first State of the Nation address last month, Marcos Jnr made a raft of promises, including tax and agriculture reforms, a faster infrastructure upgrade, and plans to turn the country into an investment destination. He also vowed to focus on developing the Philippines’ railway network and continue with his predecessor Duterte’s “build, build, build” infrastructure programme.