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NEDA: 80% of flagship infrastructure projects OKd under Duterte

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) – June 3, 2021 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration has approved 80 percent of its flagship infrastructure projects anchored on its goal to propel the economy and create jobs especially as the country recovers from the pandemic.

During his confirmation hearing yesterday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the Duterte administration is almost done with approving key infrastructure projects, almost one year before Duterte steps down from office.

This is under the Build Build Build program of the administration that aims to usher in the Golden Age of Infrastructure in the country. Infrastructure has long been a laggard in achieving full economic development.

Most of these projects are expected to be continued by the next administration.

“Of the 112 infrastructure projects identified, 80 percent have already been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA),” Chua said.

A total of 51 projects are already in construction or project implementation stage while 31 are under pre-construction status or awaiting for procurement.

Some of these include the Metro Manila Subway project, the south and east extension lines of the Manila Light Rail Transit System (LRT), the first bus rapid transit system, and Mindanao Railway, among others.

Another 17 projects are being processed for approval in the NEDA-Investment Coordination Committee, four projects are firming up their feasibility studies while nine more projects are under their respective agencies for approval.

Majority of the 112 projects are under the transport and mobility sector. Others are on information and communication technology, water resources and urban development.

Chua defended the pace of project approvals after Sen. Grace Poe said the bottleneck in approving infrastructure projects seems to lie on the side of the NEDA.

“The Investment Coordination Committee ensures that all projects are well-designed and are financially capable and they will not add to future burden to the people in terms of payment or liabilities,” Chua said.

“If there are incomplete submissions, we have to return those until they are complete to see the whole picture when we review the project,” he said.

Chua also maintained that he remains politically unbiased in terms of project approvals.

“That is my policy, I continue to listen to lawmakers, if they have better suggestions, then we can incorporate. But I don’t recommend to the NEDA board projects that are not fully vetted or have incomplete requirements,” Chua said.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) earlier said the Philippines should prioritize quality investment in infrastructure, one that is resilient and well-planned, especially in a post-pandemic world where sustainability is necessary.

It is estimated that Asia-Pacific needs to allocate at least $26 trillion for water and sanitation, telecommunications, power and transportation from 2016 to 2030.

This includes about $200 billion to mitigate climate change and $41 billion per year to make infrastructure more resilient.

Developing countries in the region, including the Philippines, lose an average of 32 percent of their investments due to inefficient planning and development.