Wake Up, Philippines!

Global crisis worsening poverty – WB

Posted in Global Financial Crisis, Poverty by Erineus on February 15, 2009

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (Reuters) – A day ahead of a meeting of industrial powers, the World Bank said new research showed more people were being pushed into poverty in developing countries due to the global financial crisis.

It said new 2009 estimates compiled by the bank show that weaker economic growth will push 46 million more people below the poverty line of $ 1.25 a day than was expected before the crisis emerged in 2007.

An additional 53 million people will stay trapped on less than a day. This is on top of the 130 million-155 million people pushed into poverty in 2008 because of soaring food and fuel prices, it said.

The Washington-based development lender, whose mission is to fight global poverty, said the new forecasts highlight the risk that the world will fail to meet a universally agreed target to halve global poverty by 2015 under the UN Millennium Development Goals.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who will attend the Group of Seven meeting, said helping the poor required a global solution.

“While much of the world is focused on bank rescues and stimulus packages, we should not forget that poor people in developing countries are far more exposed if their economies falter,’’ he said in a statement.

“This is a global crisis requiring a global solution. The needs of poor people in developing countries must be on the table,’’ he said

In its research, the World Bank said the global economic crisis exposed households in virtually all developing countries to increased poverty and hardship.

It said countries where poverty was already a problem before the crisis would be particularly hard hit.

It also said efforts by governments in developing countries to fend off the crisis were blunted by weak institutions and already tight budgets.

Link: http://www.mb.com.ph/BSNS20090215148145.html

WB cites firm’s success in wind power tech

Posted in Energy, Environment by Erineus on February 11, 2009

The World Bank (WB) has cited the success of NorthWind Power Development Corp. (NorthWind) in generating electricity through the wind power technology in Bangui Bay, Ilocos Norte.

Neils Jacobsen, Danish engineer and environmentalist who has managed several power projects in the Philippines since the early 1990s, attributed the NorthWind’s success to a combination of three factors: right timing, right financing, and support from the World Bank through its Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF), which enabled NorthWind to generate more resources through the sale of carbon emission reduction credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol.

The project started with 15 wind turbines in 2000 with 25 megawatt of capacity and a 60-kilometer transmission line to the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative in Laoag City. The project costs million, financed largely through an interest-free mixed credit from the Danish International Development Agency (Danida).

In June 2008, NorthWind added five more turbines, raising the wind farm’s capacity to 33 MW, enabling the company to provide half the province’s power needs.

WB country director Bert Hofman said the World Bank’s carbon finance program is a natural extension of its mission to fight poverty. “We want to ensure that poor countries can benefit from international efforts to combat climate change including the emerging carbon market for GHG emission reductions.”

Author: Edu Lopez
Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/archive_pages.php?url=http://www.mb.com.ph/issues/2009/02/07/BSNS20090207147517.html

A matter of view?

THE World Bank (WB) is a specialized agency of the UN system, established in 1944. It encompasses two development institutions and three affiliates focused on worldwide poverty reduction.

Helping poor nations

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is WB’s main component that provides loans and technical assistance for projects in developing – poor – member countries, like RP, and encourages co-financing for projects from other countries or a syndication of dozens of giant commercial banks in the US and Europe.

Huge loans

Most big infrastructures in RP are funded with loans by the billions of pesos from IBRD, that in turn urges big commercial banks in Europe by the dozens to invest here.

One bridge or highway project here costing R500M needs a long-term loan of .52 million. The World Bank will then encourage other giant banks in Switzerland, Paris, London, Berlin, New York, etc. to share in meeting the loan and its terms.

One or two banks may not loan more than R500M to RP.

Fraud

Disclosures of IBRD that some Filipino contractors and politicians connive or help each other to “corner” contracts via acts amounting to fraud, conflict of interest, influence peddling and other fraudulent means serve as notice/revelation to the lending banks.

The above places RP on the banks’ blacklist of nations notoriously engaged in making net loans result in inferior bridge or road called by honest builders as “matapang sa buhangin.” The same notice or knowledge is not forgotten for years by nations that apply their IBRD loans with unassailable honesty.

Just an image

This was probably the start of RP’s unkind image of having corrupt high officials, national and local, and of wasting loans from IBRD and other sources encouraged by the World Bank Group.

Our high officials and politicians were “splendidly quick” in denying allegations of contract “rigging, fixing and spinning yarns or wizardry.” They – officials and contractors – angrily disputed the lending bank’s official list of shadowy contractors and questioned results of a long investigation by independent experts.

Blacklisting

The bank officials did not answer the rage/anger of blacklisted contractors and their protectors. Neither did it refer to blacklisted contractors considered by DPWH officials/engineers as truly friendly and kind and thoughtful and honest – of all things – all the time.

Unkind words

And all 91.8M of us don’t know what epithets and unkind words are being thrown by lending banks in our way for years.

Let’s not forget that a syndication of banks is like a club and can influence other banks in Europe and in the US not to give RP loans of any kind in years.

But let’s not be too harsh on DoJ investigators and the NBI if they call World Bank investigations without basis or based on unreliable evidence like the findings favorable to dirty little crooks selling drugs.

Lacks ‘audacity’

The two agencies combined, including other good agencies, cannot summon Obama’s audacity to take a closer look at disbursements called pork or view a few bottles of liquid fertilizer (replaced by deepwell water) but commanded a price amounting to 1000 percent (or 10 times) of the normal price tag.

Lender’s view

DoJ and NBI conclusions with respect to PDEA’s arrests of drug traders they considered innocent are now under review by a commission headed by a retired and distinguished Supreme Court justice. (Comments are welcome at roming@pefianco.com)

Author: Atty. Romeo V. Pefianco
Source:
http://www.mb.com.ph/OPED20090203147184.html

WB links government officials, politicians to bid rigging

The World Bank (WB) not only indicted seven contractors for allegedly manipulating three biddings for road projects worth $33 million it had offered to finance; it also linked politicians and government officials to the manipulation.

In its four-page decision on the case of the seven contractors, the WB accused them of engaging in “fraudulent practices,” including “misrepresentation of facts to influence the procurement (bidding) process for one or more procurement packages.”

“In addition, they include participation in a collusive scheme, also involving politicians and government officials, whereby awards were directed to particular contractors in exchange for bribes, kickbacks and payments to designated losing bidders,” the WB said.

Three of the seven contractors are Filipino companies, while four are Chinese firms.

The Filipino contractors are E. C. de Luna Construction Corp., owned by Eduardo de Luna, which the World Bank blacklisted permanently; and Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corp. and CM Pancho Construction, Inc., which were each barred from participating in WB projects for four years.

The Chinese contractors are China Geo-Engineering Corp., China Road and Bridge Corp., China State Construction Engineering Corp., and China Wuyi Co. Ltd.

Unlike construction firms participating in biddings for its projects which it can identify and sanction, the WB did not name the politicians and government officials it linked to bid manipulation and who it said were taking bribes and kickbacks.

The officials are presumably from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the agency implementing WB-financed projects that conducted the three failed biddings for the $33-million worth of roads between 2002 and 2006.

The WB withdrew its funding offer after discovering evidence of bid manipulation.

During the second hearing of the House committee on public works on the blacklisting of the seven contractors last Wednesday, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla suggested that the Philippine government should ask the World Bank for the names of politicians and government officials and its evidence against them.

“We should be interested in finding out who these people are. In fact, we must prosecute them,” he said.

Padilla said it is reports about corruption from international agencies like the WB that give the Philippines the reputation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Less than two hours after Padilla made the appeal, the hearing panel chaired by Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado cleared the seven blacklisted contractors.

Mercado said his committee found no evidence that the contractors were engaged in fraudulent and collusive practices as the WB had accused them of doing.

Over the weekend, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said a WB official in Washington D.C. has told him that they are willing to furnish the government the evidence they have against the contractors.

“According to him, we can have access to all these pieces of evidence for the purpose of prosecution. At this point, I cannot elaborate, but there is an ongoing process for the World Bank to provide our country with solid and concrete evidence enough for prosecution,” Pimentel said.

The contractors claimed that the bank punished them without giving them a fair hearing.

The WB, however, insisted that it followed due process in deciding to blacklist the seven companies.

In 2006, after the three failed biddings for the WB-financed road projects, President Arroyo approved the recommendation of DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane for his department to take over the projects and to pursue them using its own funds.

In the succeeding biddings, E. C. De Luna Construction, one of the seven WB-blacklisted firms, won a P100-million contract for a road in the Negros provinces.

DPWH Undersecretary Manuel Bonoan told the Mercado committee last Wednesday that the WB has not yet barred the contractor from its project at the time it won the contract.

“The blacklisting was made just recently,” he said.

However, he admitted that as early as 2002, when the first bidding for the same projects that were to be financed by the WB was held, the bank had already informed the DPWH of its findings and the contractors involved.

Resume investigation

Pimentel, in the meantime, urged his colleagues yesterday to get to the bottom of the scandal and cautioned them against statements that might undermine the investigation.

He said that while Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile might be correct in saying that Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s revelations about the connection between First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and WB-blacklisted contractor Eduardo de Luna might be considered hearsay at this point, it created the impression there was an effort to disparage the evidence.

“What he said may be technically, legally correct. But then its implication is that, let us put a stop to the hearing,” Pimentel said.

He said it was unfortunate that the Jan. 27 hearing lasted only for two hours and Lacson, together with the other members of the Blue Ribbon committee, was not able to pursue his questioning of De Luna and other witnesses-resource persons.

The Senate minority leader suggested that the inquiry be resumed.

“The investigation should be resumed at once to give the persons concerned the full opportunity to produce the necessary evidence,” Pimentel said.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairperson of the Senate economic affairs committee leading the investigation, said she would call another hearing if Lacson could present his witness on the alleged P70-million bribe given by contractors to a powerful person close to Malacañang holding office at LTA Building in Makati City.

Santiago gave Lacson two weeks to present his witness.

De Luna denied he was the one carrying the bribe in a carton box or that it was for the First Gentleman in exchange for a P1.4-billion road project.

In a statement, Pimentel stressed that the Senate, the Office of the Ombudsman and other investigating agencies concerned must be able to secure from the WB all the documentary and testimonial evidence that served as its basis for debarring three Filipino contractors from its infrastructure projects.

He said it would be through an inquiry that the Senate could validate the findings and conclusion of the World Bank that the three construction companies – E. C. de Luna, Cavite Ideal and CM Pancho – were engaged in “collusive and corrupt” practices in bidding for public works projects that prompted the bank to blacklist them.

Pimentel said it was deplorable that the three contractors blacklisted by the WB were not barred from bidding for projects as long as these were not funded by the bank.

“The World Bank has debarred the erring contractors for life, and we suspend them only for 15 days, it’s as if we are playing around with our laws,” he said. —Aurea Calica

Author: Jess Diaz
Source: Philippine  Star
Updated February 02, 2009 12:00 AM
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=436704&publicationSubCategoryId=63