MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The World Bank has released a $300 million development loan to the Philippines to support the government's poverty reduction efforts.

Axel van Trotsenburg, the bank's vice president for East Asia and the Pacific, told a news conference Friday that the Philippines' robust economic growth will boost efforts to create more jobs and cut poverty.

He said the bank has transferred $300 million to support reforms that will accelerate growth, create more jobs and reduce poverty.

He said poverty reduction requires a long-term commitment and that turning "high growth into inclusive growth is increasingly important for the Philippines."

Although the $250 billion Philippine economy surged 7.8 percent in the first quarter, nearly 28 percent of the 97 million people in the country are extremely poor, which the government aims to cut to 16.6 percent by 2015.

Van Trotsenburg said the bank is developing an assistance strategy for the Philippines that will continue to support government programs including those that create jobs in rural areas where most of the poor are, and to expand the Conditional Cash Transfer program that gives cash to poor families if their children stay in school and have medical care.

He said the bank is committed to supporting economic development in conflict areas in the southern Philippines. He met Wednesday with Muslim rebel leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim whose group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is negotiating with government for a final settlement that grants minority Muslims in the southern Philippines broad autonomy in exchange for ending the violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and crippled development.

 

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