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Gov’t reviews viability of infra plan

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 04:09 AM October 01, 2019

The Duterte administration is reviewing the viability of its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program, with the possibility of including in the pipeline emerging big-ticket projects to be rolled out by the private sector as the government wanted to start and finish as many infrastructure as possible before the President steps down in 2022.

“We’re reviewing the list and may make changes,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer Monday.

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Infrastructure agencies are reviewing Build, Build, Build—currently comprised of 75 “flagship” projects, of which only nine have private sector participation—as well as eight public-private partnerships (PPPs) and one to be fully rolled out by a private firm.

The Duterte administration had been shunning the PPP mode as its economic team had said the process from project approval to rollout had been slow during the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III, wherein only 10 projects were implemented during its six years in office despite a promise to roll out 10 each year.

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Duterte’s economic managers were instead pushing for a “hybrid” PPP model wherein the government rolled out the projects and later bid out operations and maintenance (O&M) contracts to the private sector.

Officials told the Inquirer that slow-moving projects might be removed from the list, while huge PPP projects that were recently approved by the government but not yet part of the Build, Build, Build pipeline could be included.

The government recently approved the massive P735-billion New Manila International Airport project of San Miguel Corp. in Bulacan, while Neda’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee last week approved the proposal of Naia Consortium—comprised of seven tycoons—to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s congested main gateway.

Also being reviewed by Neda ICC and other agencies are airport projects to be undertaken by Aboitiz Group in Bohol, Dennis Uy-led Chelsea Logistics‘ venture in Davao and other PPPs to be undertaken to expand Mactan-Cebu, Laguindingan and Kalibo airports.

As of July, 46 big-ticket infrastructure projects worth P1.6 trillion belonging to the Build, Build, Build pipeline were under implementation, although only nine were under construction.

At this pace, 21 projects worth P187.6 billion out of the 75 flagship projects worth a total of at least P2.4 trillion will be finished in 2022 or the year President Duterte steps down, the latest Neda status report on the progress of Build, Build, Build showed.

“The remaining 54 projects will be completed beyond 2022, but may commence implementation during the current administration,” it noted.

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Of the 46 projects currently under implementation, two were already completed, six undergoing detailed engineering and design, 10 being procured, 12 were undergoing budgeting/financing, and seven will be reevaluated by the Investment Coordination Committee.

Out of the 75 Build, Build, Build projects, 20 are under project development, five for review and four are pending government approval.

The nine ongoing projects included the Clark International Airport Expansion, a PPP build-and-transfer project that was 63-percent completed as of April. Construction of three other PPPs in Clark via joint venture was 65-percent accomplished in April.

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