PHL gains World Bank’s help in digitalization bid

THE World Bank (WB) expressed its support for the Philippine government’s digitalization program to enhance tax administration, assist in the energy and agriculture sectors and facilitate investments in human capital.

A statement issued by the Department of Finance (DOF) last Wednesday announced that Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto secured the assistance of the World Bank in the said areas during the 7-day WB-International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings that began on April 15 in Washington, DC.

During the meeting with the top officials of the WB, the DOF said Recto underscored the government’s thrust on digitalization to improve tax collection efficiency now that a fourth of Filipino consumers shifted to e-commerce.

“The Bank expressed strong support for assisting the DOF on this front, emphasizing that it has currently created a new team in the institution dedicated to providing digital solutions to a variety of development programs, especially to those connected to fiscal areas,” the DOF said.

The international financial institution is also keen on expanding these digital service solutions to other areas, specifically in education and health.

Recto has also sought technical assistance to support the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as part of the WB’s assistance to the digitalization of government agencies.

Aside from digitalization, the WB also pledged its assistance to provide wider access to power supply in the country, particularly in remote areas, and to harness renewable energy resources to speed up the country’s progress towards adapting to clean energy.

The DOF said the bank will also help the country in generating investments in human capital by supporting early childhood and nutritional programs as well as the upskilling and re-skilling of the workers to boost its labor force.

Moreover, the World Bank will also extend its support to the country’s agricultural sector to increase productivity and profitability to address food security while reducing emissions through technological practices.

The key priorities outlined by Recto will be aligned and reflected in the new country partnership framework that the World Bank is drafting for the Philippines, the DOF added.

The total official development assistance of the World Bank International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the Philippines amounts to $8.20 billion and the Philippines’s third-largest source of official development assistance.

Joining Recto during the meeting included: DOF Chief-of-Staff and Undersecretary Maria Luwalhati C. Dorotan Tiuseco; Undersecretary Joven Z. Balbosa; National Treasurer Sharon P. Almanza; Chief Economic Counselor Domini S. Velasquez; WB Group Alternate Executive Director Erwin D. Sta. Ana; and, OIC Assistant Secretary Donalyn U. Minimo.

Representatives from the World Bank include the following: Vice President and Treasurer Jorge Familiar Calderon; Vice President for the Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions (EFI) Pablo Saavedra; Vice President for Sustainable Development Juergen Voegele; Vice President for Human Development Mamta Murthi; Vice President for Infrastructure Guangzhe Chen; Vice President of Operations at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency Junaid Kamal Ahmad; and, Country Director for the Philippines Ndiamé Diop.