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Gov’t lines up priority infrastructure for 2019

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By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan, Reporter

THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION has lined up the start of P36.23 billion worth of large-scale flood control, road and railway projects next year, which marks the midterm of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno presented the flagship infrastructure projects for 2019 during the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines Economic Forum at the Ayuntamiento de Manila on Tuesday.

For road and bridge projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the list consists of the P3.57-billion Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project, P2.34-billion Road Upgrading and Preservation Project and the P1.85-billion first phase of the Central Luzon Link Expressway Project.

Also to be implemented by DPWH are the P2.2-billion first phase of the Metro Manila Flood Management Project and the P1.68-billion Flood Risk Management Project covering areas adjacent to the Cagayan, Tagoloan and Imus Rivers.

Next year also marks the start of five railway projects under the Department of Transportation, namely: the P14.04-billion, 37.9-kilometer Philippine National Railway (PNR) North 1 linking Tutuban in Metro Manila and Malolos, Bulacan; the P2.91-billion 102-kilometer first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project that will run through Digos, Davao and Tagum cities in Mindanao; the P1.52-billion first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project that will include the first three stations along Mindanao Avenue, Tandang Sora and North Avenue, in Quezon City; and the P1.42-billion PNR South Commuter Solis-Los Baños Project.

The government will also provide a P4.7-billion subsidy for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3.

MAKING UP FOR PAST NEGLECT
“Without doubt our ‘Build, Build, Build’ program will not be a walk in the park… a major challenge for us is to make up for past neglect on infrastructure,” the Budget chief said, adding that most of the projects will be done through a “hybrid” framework involving initial funding by state budget or official development assistance for the construction phase and public-private partnership for operation and maintenance.

“The hybrid PPP is quicker to mount and less expensive than the traditional PPP. The harsh reality is that the traditional PPP takes 29 months from project identification until the shovel hits the ground. By contrast, the Clark Airport Expansion Project — the biggest example of hybrid PPP so far — is going full blast,” Mr. Diokno said.

“With hybrid PPP we expect the cost of financing lower, within the neighborhood of 2-3%… This implies that the user charge for the facility would be more affordable.”

Public Works and Highways Sec. Mark A. Villar said in the same forum that the government has “never spent so much in the history of the department with a 40% higher disbursement rate.”