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7 more infra projects up for Neda Board nod

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7 more infra projects up for Neda Board nod

/ 01:44 AM November 09, 2016

DAVAO CITY—President Duterte is expected to approve seven infrastructure projects when he convenes the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board by the middle of this month, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said Tuesday.

Pernia, who is also director general of state planning agency Neda, told participants of the Philippine Development Forum that the Duterte administration would have approved at least 16 projects by yearend, further claiming that they approve projects faster than the previous administration.

The country’s chief economist said the Aquino administration approved only 12 projects, referring to the public-private partnership (PPP) projects granted the go-ahead by the previous government. So far, President Duterte as Neda Board chair has approved only one PPP project—the P74.6-billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) development.

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Ports and railways

“We have to be fair to the previous administration—there are low hanging fruits. But the previous administration was kind of slow, there was too much analysis,” Pernia told reporters.

Pernia said that at the Neda Board meeting scheduled on Nov. 14, to be tackled and likely be approved by President Duterte are the P9.2-billion New Cebu international container port project as well as the almost P214-billion, 653-kilometer south line of the North-South railway project, which will be the biggest PPP project to date.

Last April, the Neda Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) approved the transportation department’s proposal to split the project into two such that the planned commuter railway (from Tutuban to Los Baños, Laguna) and the long-haul railway (from Los Baños to Sorsogon, with a branch from Calamba City to Batangas City) would be bid out to private sector proponents separately.

The original plan approved by the Neda Board last year consisted of commuter railway operations between Tutuban in Manila and Calamba, Laguna, as well as a long-haul railway operations between Tutuban and Legazpi, on top of the extended long-haul rail operations on the branch line between Calamba and Batangas as well as an extension between Legazpi and Matnog, Sorsogon.

Spreading development

The project’s 36.7-kilometer north line, which will run from Tutuban to Malolos in Bulacan, will be constructed using a record-high $2-billion official development assistance (ODA) from Japan.

In September, the Neda ICC Cabinet Committee (CabCom) approved P52.2 billion worth of projects mostly aimed at spreading development in rural areas, namely the P21-billion Philippine rural development project expansion; P10.5-billion Plaridel bypass toll road project; P9.2-billion New Cebu International Container Port project; P5.4-billion Malitubog-Maridagao irrigation project stage 2; P2.8-billion improvement of General Luis Road; P2.7-billion Chico River pump irrigation project, and P601-million scaling-up of the second Cordillera highlands agricultural resources management project.

These seven projects will be rolled out only upon Neda Board approval.

Also in September, President Duterte during his first Neda Board meeting approved the rollout of nine infrastructure projects worth more than P171 billion, namely the P74.6-billion Naia PPP project; P37.8-billion Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Edsa; P23.5-billion first phase of the Metro Manila flood management project; P10.2-billion Inclusive Partnership for Agricultural Competitiveness project;  P8-billion second phase of the maritime safety capability improvement project for the Philippine Coast Guard; P7.8-billion change in scope of the new Bohol airport construction and sustainable environment protection project; P4.8-billion increase in area of Bicol International Airport’s passenger terminal building in Albay; P2.4-billion modernization of Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Leyte, and P2.2-billion modernization of Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Bohol.

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Pernia said the projects to be approved by the Neda Board during the first six months of the Duterte administration could be worth P250 to 300 billion. —Ben O. de Vera

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