Big infrastructure projects near final OK

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Clark International Airport Terminal in Pampanga. Leila Razon

THREE big-ticket infrastructure projects — including a plan to build Metro Manila’s first subway — will soon be up for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s approval after these hurdled the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA ICC).

In a statement, the NEDA said its ICC-Cabinet Committee approved the projects in its meeting on Tuesday.

The committee approved the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) which will connect Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City and Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Parañaque City.

This project — now expected to cost some P355.6 billion compared to P227 billion previously — will be funded through an official development assistance from Japan and will be built between 2018 and “mid-2025,” NEDA said.

The project also includes the construction of a 28-hectare (ha) training center and depot.

Also approved was the “hybrid” form of implementation of the new Clark International Airport terminal building that will be built by the government and then offered to private parties for operation and maintenance.

The Clark airport will be expanded to serve as an alternative hub for international flights, in order to decongest NAIA.

Construction is estimated to cost P15.35 billion which will be funded by the Department of Transportation and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

The NEDA ICC likewise approved the P3.5-billion Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project, which will improve services for farmers in about 12,650 ha.

Some 10,000 farmers are expected to benefit once the project is completed by December 2021, NEDA said.

In its initial design, the project was to cover the Pangasinan municipalities of Alcala, Bautista, Rosales, San Manuel and Sto. Tomas, as well as Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija and Moncada, Tarlac.

ICC approval clears the way for projects to be elevated to the NEDA Board, chaired by Mr. Duterte, which will give the green light for financing and implementation.

The Duterte government plans to spend P8.44 trillion on infrastructure projects under its 2017-2022 “Build, Build, Build” program, as it hopes to put economic growth on a faster track by improving connectivity and ease of doing business. It hopes to prod gross domestic product growth to 7-8% annually from next year until 2022, from a 6.5-7.5% goal this year, 2016’s actual 6.9% and a 6.2% average in 2010-2015. — M. L. T. Lopez