THE government has obtained $8.47 billion worth of external financing for the “Build, Build, Build” program since the start of its term, the Department of Finance (DoF) said, adding that it is also working to shore up local sources of funding.

“Since the start of the Duterte administration, $8.47 billion worth of external financing has been secured, all at concessional interest rates and with very long tenors to fund ‘Build, Build, Build,’” Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said at a briefing with foreign investors at Clark Freeport.

He said financing the infrastructure program will be made more “sustainable” as the government pursues reforms to the tax system like the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP).

He said the government has been “borrowing responsibly” from domestic and foreign sources, as well as in obtaining official development assistance (ODA).

“The Duterte administration will continue to spend heavily on infrastructure, as it is the kind of state investment with the highest multiplier effects on the economy and provides the best returns to our people,” he said.

In 2018, he said that the government spent P889 billion on infrastructure modernization, equivalent to more than 5% of gross domestic product (GDP).

This compares to the 2.5% average annual infrastructure spending-to-GDP ratio of the past 50 years, he said.

The government recently revised its infrastructure priority list to 100 from 75, taking in more Public-Private Partnerships, scrapping projects that were deemed not feasible while including more “small but game-changing” projects.

In a recent report, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said a total of 9,845 kilometers (km) of roads, 2,709 bridges, 4,536 flood control projects, 82 evacuation centers and 71,803 classrooms have been completed under “Build, Build, Build” since June 2016.

Meanwhile, the DoF said that the Department of Transportation and its agencies have completed 64 airport projects during this presidential term, while 133 more are ongoing.

Six railway projects are currently being constructed while one is under rehabilitation; 243 commercial and social or tourism seaport projects have been completed, while 136 are ongoing.

“We go around to take a look at these projects on the ground, and we do see that ‘Build, Build, Build’ is making a difference in people’s lives, especially in the provinces,” Mr. Lambino said. — Beatrice M. Laforga