The World Bank will be providing technical and financial assistance to help the Philippines meet its housing targets, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said.

“I encouraged the World Bank to consider extending both technical assistance and financial assistance to the Philippines, namely in the implementation of our program to build sustainable housing communities,” Binay said.

“I am glad to announce that the World Bank has acted positively on our requests and that steps will be taken to see to their immediate implementation,” he added.

Binay attended the 5th Global Housing Finance Conference in Washington D.C. and met with World Bank Executive Director Rogerio Studart.

The housing czar sought the World Bank’s assistance in building housing communities in New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, North Triangle in Quezon City, San Miguel New Town, and Welfareville in Mandaluyong.

“We also sought technical assistance in reforming our loan program for the homeless poor, and the formulation of a policy to encourage rural banks to open a special window on housing and micro finance,” he said.

Earlier, Binay secured the interest of the Malaysian business community into exploring more investment opportunities in the Philippines, specifically in agriculture and agribusiness, housing, finance, tourism and infrastructure.

Binay, chairman of the Philippines’ Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), also invited Malaysian businessmen to invest in housing development and mass housing projects that would help government build 3.6 million units in the next few years.

“This is one business opportunity where the rewards are high, not necessarily in terms of financial returns alone but above all in terms of the physical satisfaction of having helped provide homes for millions and transformed the landscape across the nation,” he said.

The Vice President was in Malaysia from May 27 to 29 as head of an official delegation that included 35 business leaders. His visit was the first high-level visit to Malaysia in five years.

“The Malaysian business community, to use their own words, is very excited about the Philippines,” he said.

According to the Vice President, the businessmen are attracted by the broad business opportunities and a business environment that encourages growth.

“They gladly welcome the new policy directions set by the administration of President Aquino promoting transparency and a level playing field,” he said.

Binay said the revival of the Malaysian-Philippines Business Council, which includes some of the big names in Malaysian business, and the successful holding of the Philippines-Malaysia Investment Partnership Forum where he was the keynote speaker showed Malaysia’s excitement and enthusiasm about investing in the Philippines.

While in Kuala Lumpur, the Vice President witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the MTD group of Malaysia, the Isabela Power Corporation and Greenpower Resources Corporation for the construction of nine mini-hydro power plants in Isabela with a cost of US$240 million.

“These power plants are expected to generate and add about 80 megawatts to Luzon’s electric power grid, and will be implemented within a period of three years,” he said.

In his meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, Binay said the strong political interests between Malaysia and the Philippines can only grow stronger in the years ahead.

“Our partnership is not only bilateral but also regional and through ASEAN and BIMP-EAGA we have strong institutions that offer maximum opportunities for political and economic cooperation,” he said.

In 2011, Malaysia ranked as the Philippines’ 9th largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to US$3.83 billion. In the same year, Malaysia stood as the Philippines’ 11th largest export market, with exports valued at US$1.396 billion; and the 8th largest import market, with imports valued at US$2.438 billion. From 2005 to 2010, Malaysian investments in the Philippines reached US$203.03 million.

In his speech during the Investment Forum, the Vice President said the Philippines “has certainly become an attractive site for foreign investment.”