PHL Leads with World Bank crisis response deal

WBG Managing Director Anna Bjerde (left) with Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto.

Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto has advanced the Philippines’ position in crisis and disaster management globally by entering into a pioneering agreement with the World Bank Group (WBG).

The country emerges as the first to sign the Rapid Response Option (RRO), a component of the WBG’s Expanded Crisis Preparedness and Response Toolkit, designed to offer countries nimble financial deployment during emergencies.

The RRO will enable the Philippines to access up to 10% of undisbursed and uncommitted balances from their portfolio with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or International Development Association (IDA) swiftly, providing immediate liquidity to facilitate crucial services such as healthcare, shelter, and food in times of crisis.

This groundbreaking agreement was sealed by Secretary Recto and WBG Managing Director Anna Bjerde on April 20, 2024, alongside the WBG and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., according to a press statement from the DOF.

Present to witness the signing were Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman, Monetary Board Member Rosalia V. De Leon of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Deputy Governor Francisco G. Dakila, Jr., National Treasurer Sharon P. Almanza, and Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo.

Bjerde praised the Philippines’ swift adoption of the RRO, remarking, “I honestly cannot think of a better client and country to sign the first RRO. It fits nicely into the program that we are supporting in the Philippines under your leadership. It is wonderful to see that just in February, we went to the Board with this crisis response toolkit to just in a few months be able to operationalize it with such an important partner and client.”

Responding to this development, Secretary Recto underscored its significance for the nation’s economic security, “We greatly welcome the introduction of the Rapid Response Option, which significantly enhances our capacity to ensure economic security for the Filipino people. Through this, we can safeguard our hard-earned development progress, strengthen our resilience against shocks, and keep our development targets on track.”

The RRO stands among the latest innovations in the WBG’s toolkit, which also includes upgraded access to pre-arranged financing for emergency response and broadened catastrophe insurance, reinforcing the country’s arsenal against unforeseen disasters and crises.