Duterte admin to make Clark ‘the next big metropolis’
CLARK FREEPORT ZONE-The Duterte administration is set to make the Clark Freeport Zone “the next big metropolis” with several flagship infrastructure projects seen bolstering economic activity in the former US military base.
“Clark will soon be the showcase of the Duterte administration’s economic strategy. We expect this area to be the growth driver for central and northern Luzon,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters in a press conference during the roadshow here for the Philippines’ hosting of the 51st Asian Development Bank annual meeting on May 3-6.
Clark was “ideally suited to be a center for agro-industrial activities as well as home to cutting-edge technology companies and world-class sports facilities,” Dominguez said.
Also, “with the recent groundbreaking of the 40-hectare piece of land where the National Government Administrative Center will be developed, the New Clark City will house various backup government centers that will ensure continuous business operations and services in the country at the onset of a natural disaster,” Dominguez added.
As such, “Clark, in the near future, will be the next big metropolis,” Dominguez said.
The Finance chief noted that at least two soon-to-rise big-ticket infrastructure projects would benefit Clark.
The P211.43-billion Philippine National Railways North 2 project will connect Malolos, Bulacan to Clark Airport and Clark Green City.
Based on earlier documents, the Japanese government will finance the 69.5-kilometer PNR North 2, with the loan agreement expected to be signed by the fourth quarter of this year, following National Economic and Development Authority Board approval in June last year.
Another major infrastructure project in the freeport is the P12.55-billion new terminal building of the Clark International Airport, which Dominguez said, “will increase the airport’s capacity by eight million per year and will help pave the way for accelerated growth in Central Luzon and nearby areas.”
As a whole, the government plans to invest “heavily” on infrastructure in central and northern Luzon “to have major alternative growth areas,” according to Dominguez.
“In fact, three of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects already approved by the Neda Board are in central and northern Luzon, [including] the P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, under which 8,700 hectares of agricultural land will be irrigated, benefitting 4,350 farmers and serving 21 barangays in the Cagayan Valley and Kalinga,” Dominguez said.
Last Tuesday, the Philippine and Chinese governments signed the P3.135-billion loan agreement for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the first flagship infrastructure project to be financed by the mainland under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build.”
The Chinese loan for the project to be implemented by the National Irrigation Administration was slapped an interest of 2 percent per annum, maturing in 20 years inclusive of a seven-year grace period.
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