Budget chief: Duterte admin to usher in ‘golden age of infrastructure’
The Duterte administration’s plan to jack up infrastructure spending to up to 7 percent of the economy by 2022 would bring about a “golden age of infrastructure” in the next six years, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said Wednesday.
Diokno nonetheless told reporters that despite the planned spending boost, it may take a decade before the infrastructure gap in the country would be totally addressed.
The Budget chief was also pitching more “hybrid” public-private partnership (PPP) projects to speed up infrastructure development.
In a speech at the general membership meeting of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex), Diokno said the government will spend close to P900 billion on hard public infrastructure next year to make up for years of “neglect.”
Diokno said they plan to rollout “simultaneously, not sequentially,” small, medium and large projects in all regions.
The budget chief had said the Duterte administration will order non-stop or 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week construction work on most urban-based projects to fast-track infrastructure buildup.
From a share of 5.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) next year, infrastructure spending will be hiked to 7 percent of GDP by the end of the Duterte administration, Diokno said.
Three to four more railway lines in Metro Manila are needed to shuttle commuters in the metropolis alongside additional airports, he said.
Diokno said the Duterte administration would have to decide on where to build a new air transport hub—whether Sangley Point in Cavite or Clark in Pampanga—within the year.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself was also proposing a highway connecting Clark and Makati City, he added.
Th government will continue to enjoin private sector participation in the infrastructure buildup through PPP, although the Budget chief said he prefers “hybrid” PPP projects.
Under the hybrid PPP setup that Diokno was pushing for, the government will build the facility and later on tap a private firm for maintenance.
As such, the government could finance projects at a lower cost through official development assistance (ODA) from donor agencies while tapping private contractors, Diokno said.
Once the projects are finished, the government would have to bid out the maintenance contract. “The government is poor in maintenance, so we should give it to the private sector,” the Budget chief explained. JE
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