Project Brief

The PDF version of the Covid Loan Tracker’s project brief (cover page shown below) can be accessed by clicking on this link.

If you’re using a tablet or a mobile phone, the PDF file will be downloaded onto your device.

Alternatively, a text-only version of the same project brief can also be accessed by scrolling down on this same page.

What is the AIIB Covid-19 Loan?

The Philippines borrowed money from several multilateral lenders to help bankroll its programs in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

An example of this is the loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) worth USD750 million for the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program. This program is co-financed by another loan from the Asian Development Bank to the tune of USD1,500 million.

The AIIB loan provides budgetary support to the Philippine government’s efforts to mitigate the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the health and economic opportunities. The loan agreement was signed on June 5, 2020.

AIIB is a multilateral development bank that began operations in 2016 and is headquartered in Beijing.

What will the loan be spent on?

The AIIB loan supports the implementation of the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program which contain the following measures to combat the pandemic’s adverse impacts:

  • enhanced quarantine to reduce the infection rate;
  • expanded medical services to step up testing and care for affected populations;
  • social protection and livelihood support to help mitigate the immediate impacts on livelihoods and employment;
  • a small business relief program;
  • support for agriculture and other economic sectors; and,
  • local government support.

Why citizens’ monitoring of COVID-19 loans?

Economic recession and joblessness brought about by the pandemic are drastically eroding government’s capacity to collect tax revenues.

New borrowings allow government to finance urgently needed public services but they will eventually be paid using taxes collected from the Filipino people.

While borrowings are not necessarily bad, and may be needed in some cases, prudent debt management is important to ensure that people most affected by the pandemic will not bear the burden of servicing these debts.

Citizens need to monitor and ensure that COVID-19 loan proceeds are spent in the most effective, efficient, and timely manner because any misuse, abuse, or wastage will have dire human and social consequences.

Citizens should also monitor how these loans impact on the country’s debt burden and ensure that government’s debt management will not sacrifice the people’s welfare in its budget and tax policies.

What does the citizens’ monitoring project intend to achieve?

The Citizens’ Monitoring of the AIIB COVID-19 Loan Project seeks to educate, mobilize, and capacitate CSOs to:

  • Expand spaces for their meaningful participation in budget and program administration of the loan and ensure effective and responsive implementation.
  • Through the use of gender analysis, sensitize policymakers of the differentiated needs of women and girls in evaluating program results.
  • Conduct citizens’ assessment on policy and operational issues and identify recommendations to improve policies and mechanisms of both government and the AIIB.

With this engagement, CSOs hope to widen its influence in policymaking so that government agencies will be more transparent, accountable, and responsive to public queries and consultation. ◦

How will the citizens’ monitoring project be implemented?

Citizens’ monitoring will be undertaken through research, advocacy, and communications work.

A citizens’ assessment report will be produced by the end of the project that will take a wholistic approach in studying the AIIB loan, taking into account both its policy and operational dimensions.

The research will cover a review of the loan agreement, monitoring its implementation and tracking financial, budget, and program performance.

It will conduct local case studies to highlight perspectives and concerns of affected communities and gender responsiveness. The research will also assess macro-level issues and concerns on debt, tax, and budget policies.

The advocacy component involves raising awareness about the AIIB loan, mobilizing CSO support for the conduct of citizens’ monitoring and building partnerships for collective analysis of issues and putting forward policy recommendations.

Engagement with government agencies involved in the allocation, release, and use of the AIIB loan proceeds will be done through public fora and dialogues.

The communications component support advocacy by producing and publishing information products that will highlight monitoring results, research findings, and citizens’ assessments in both traditional and social media. ◦

Who is leading the project?

Social Watch Philippines (SWP) is leading the project in line with its mission to monitor and hold government to account on its commitments to social development, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

For the past two decades, SWP has been engaging national and inter-governmental processes to mobilize sufficient, sustainable, and equitable financing for development.

SWP pursues national budget monitoring and advocacy with and along other CSOs in the Alternative Budget Initiative network. It also provides skills, tools, and training to non-state actors to analyze, monitor, and engage fiscal issues through the People’s Public Finance Institute.

The COVID-19 pandemic has set back the progress made in achieving the SDGs. The project is being undertaken in partnership with Oxfam and with the support, assistance, and expertise of CSOs in its network and beyond to ensure fair and effective financing for pandemic response.▪︎

What are the project’s key messages?

  1. Government and the AIIB must provide and broaden meaningful spaces for citizen participation in policy formulation and program planning, implementation and monitoring of COVID-19 financing.

2. Government and the AIIB should take into account the differentiated needs of women and girls in policy discourse and ensure that planning, budgeting, and evaluation of COVID-19 loans are gender-responsive.

3. Government and its creditors should proactively partner with CSOs and affected communities by regularly consulting them and by providing mechanisms for their meaningful participation and use citizens’ assessments and recommendations to improve its policies.

4. CSOs should track new borrowings for COVID-19 and maximize mechanisms to engage government on policy and operational issues detrimental of affected communities and sustainable development. ◦