THE ASIAN Development Bank is supporting the Philippines’ infrastructure push.

By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) has so far awarded $76.79 million to support the Philippines in creating a pipeline of infrastructure projects that may be implemented by the next administration.

In an August 2019 Procurement Plan uploaded on its website, the ADB said it has already awarded the country a technical assistance loan of $23 million for road and bridge consultancy, $25.54 million for transportation consultancy and $28.25 million for water consultancy.

This forms part of the $100-million ADB budget for the Philippines to finance the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility (IPIF) project, which has a total cost of $164.06 million, of which the $64.06 million remainder will come from the government.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar told reporters last week the ADB loan is being utilized to conduct feasibility studies for projects that may be implemented after President Rodrigo R. Duterte steps down in 2022.

“Right now, we have a facility from the ADB, the IPIF… That’s $100 million para gumawa ng mga feasibility studies (to do feasibility studies) that are worth tens and billions of pesos-much higher than what was left with us,” he said.

Itong pipeline, ito’y feasibility study (The pipeline, through feasibility studies, are) ready to implement projects. So at least, even after the term of this administration, marami pang mga projects (there are plenty of projects to be implemented),” he added.

The IPIF will be executed by the Department of Finance and implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DoTr).

The ADB said it wants to help DPWH and DoTr “materialize the goals of infrastructure investment” through the loan, as these pre-investment activities “will in turn help accelerate the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) review and approval process” of infrastructure projects.

Mr. Villar said doing the feasibility study takes about a year and costs millions of dollars, therefore having it prepared can make it easier for the next administration to implement a project as it would only require the detailed engineering design.

“Feasibility study is the most difficult part in any big ticket [project]… Kapag may feasibility study na na full-blown, mas madali na yung implementation (When there’s a full-blown feasibility study, implementation is easier),” he said.

The Duterte administration has been pushing for increased infrastructure spending through the Build, Build, Build program to catch up on the infrastructure backlog in the country.

Mr. Villar earlier said the pipeline of projects when the administration came in is less than P50-billion worth of projects, and they envision to have about a trillion pesos worth of projects to hasten the ramping up of road and transportation networks across the country.

“When we came in, we didn’t have a large pool of shelved projects. So we really had to create our own pipeline; that’s what we spent the first two years doing. But now, we have a very healthy pipeline of projects that will carry even beyond the next administration for many administrations,” Mr. Villar said in an interview last year.