The total amount of official development assistance (ODA) loans and grants received by the Philippines grew in 2022, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported on Tuesday.

In its 2022 ODA Portfolio Review report, the socioeconomic planning agency said the country’s ODA portfolio reached $32.40 billion, up by 0.50% from $32.24 billion in 2021.

The total ODA received by the Philippines last year consisted of 106 loans, which amounted to $30.20 billion; and 320 grants, which totaled $2.20 billion.

In a statement, the NEDA said the 2022 ODA portfolio “reflected the government’s initiative to sustain a continuous rollout of programs aimed at addressing the socioeconomic scarring brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also seeking to secure assistance for enabling social and economic transformation beyond the pandemic.”

The $32.40-billion ODA loans and grants were provided by 20 development partners, in which the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the largest contributor, accounting for 33.47% or $10.85 billion of the total.

Japan is the second largest source of ODA for the Philippines, at 30.75% or $9.96 billion. The World Bank followed with $6.86 billion of ODA last year.

China and Korea were the fourth and fifth top ODA partners of the country, respectively, accounting for 3.02% and 2.81% to the total portfolio.

Meanwhile, the NEDA said the government received only four program loans at $1.02 billion for COVID-19 response and recovery in 2022.

This represents a significant decline in the number of loans dedicated to addressing and alleviating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous years, with 2020 having 25 and 2021 with 15 COVID-19 loans, the agency said.

“The significant reduction in ODA devoted to addressing damages brought by COVID-19 reflects the country’s transition towards the new normal and is now focusing on achieving growth in the post-pandemic world,” said NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

Moreover, the report noted that the infrastructure sector received most of the ODA last year, with a share amounting $16.07 billion.

The NEDA said investments in the infrastructure sector supported the “Build-Build-Build” infrastructure program of the Duterte administration, which is continued by the current Marcos administration through the “Build-Better-More” infrastructure program.

The socioeconomic planning agency said included in the big-ticket projects are the Capacity Enhancement of Mass Transit Systems in Metro Manila LRT Line 1 South Extension; Cebu-Mactan Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project; and the Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID 19.

The following sectors also received substantial amounts of ODA —Governance and Institutions Development ($7.16 billion), Social Reform and Community Development ($6.14 billion), Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, and Natural Resources ($2.66 billion), and Industry, Trade and Tourism ($370 million).

“In line with the goal of enabling sustainable growth and significantly reducing poverty, the ODA acquired in 2022 underscores the government’s continued emphasis on developing robust infrastructure, fostering good governance, promoting social reforms, enhancing agriculture and natural resources, and driving industry, trade, and tourism for comprehensive and sustainable development,” said Balisacan.

“Ultimately, the government’s continuous efforts to maximize the benefits of foreign assistance will pave the way to the country’s transition to an upper middle-income economy,” said the NEDA chief.—AOL, GMA Integrated News