November 16, 2012 9:59 PM
MANILA, Philippines – International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde Friday praised the Philippines for its capability to transform itself from a borrower to a creditor nation.
The MIF chief arrived in the country on Thursday for a supposed meeting with President Benigno Aquino III on the role of the Philippines in global economic recovery. Lagarde instead met with Vice President Jejomar Binay because Aquino was reportedly sick.[SEE RELATED STORY: Sick Aquino has IMF chief bouncing between Malacanang, Coconut Palace]
The IMF chief called the role reversal a “big shift” during her courtesy call to Binay at the Coconut Palace as she conveyed her gratitude for the country’s contributions to the World Bank as an IMF lender.
This is the first visit of Lagarde to the Philippines. She will proceed to Cambodia for the Global Dialogue of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh.
“To see your country come up with a contribution on World Bank loans at a time when the economic crisis is not here but in Europe in particular was real,” Lagarde told Binay.
“It was not so much the money, it was the signal that you gave,” she added.
Lagarde said it is now the European countries that have become the borrowers, with Ireland, Portugal and Greece being the IMF’s largest beneficiaries.
For his part, Binay expressed optimism that Europe “will get over the hump soon,” noting that the United Kingdom and France are the Philippines’ two largest trading partners in Europe.
In June, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) committed to provide $1 billion in loan resources under the bilateral borrowing facility of the IMF.
The continued growth of the country’s gross international reserves, fueled by remiitances from overseas Filipino workers, allowed the BSP to extend loan resources to the IMF.
During their talks, Binay and Lagarde also discussed the housing and real estate developments in the country.
“In my visit and tours, it seems that you have huge developments, massive real estate developments all over the place and then you have a big issue of developing housing for the poor,” Lagarde said.
“So you have two potential challenges here because too much real estate development can create a huge problem and you’ve got to care for the poor,” she added.
Binay, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, told Lagarde that the government’s housing program for the poor was now shifting from single detached units to medium rise buildings.