THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC) has approved more projects, involving infrastructure as well as social and governance reforms that are a centerpiece of the current government’s development efforts.

NEDA said in a press statement on Tuesday that the ICC approved in a meeting on Friday last week — besides an unsolicited proposal by a consortium made up of seven of the country’s biggest firms to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, as reported later that day — the P14.97-billion Pasacao-Balatan Highway, a 40.69-kilometer four-lane road along the west coast of Camarines Sur that will provide access to various tourism sites and directly link the municipalities of Pasacao and Balatan to each other. This project will be funded through a budget allocation of Department of Public Works and Highways as its implementing agency, NEDA said.

Another infrastructure project approved was the P7.42-billion aqueduct under the Expanded Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project ofthe Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, with an extended implementation period until July 2023, or a year after President Rodrigo R. Duterte ends his six-year term. NEDA said the project “will involve the detailed engineering design and construction of a steel aqueduct to provide operational flexibility to raw water transmission from Ipo Dam to La Mesa Dam,” with the aim of improving water supply to Metro Manila.

The ICC also approved P11.46 billion in additional funding for the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility through loans from Asian Development Bank, which was meant to strengthen the quality of infrastructure project proposals. “This will also accelerate early project implementation following ICC approval through the conduct of detailed engineering design and tender support, and strengthen the capacity of key agencies responsible for infrastructure projects,” it added.

The ICC also approved P27.92 billion in funds to accelerate subdivision ofCollective Land Ownership awards for generation of individual titles, an effort of the Department of Agrarian Reform that will be funded through World Bank loan.

Also approved was the P1.56-billion Local Governance Reform Sector Development Project of the Finance department and its Bureau of Local Government Finance which aims to “strengthen the policy and administrative environment for enhancing local source revenues from real property tax by instituting reforms in real property valuation and assessment”.

It also approved the Development Objective Assistance Agreement: Improved Health for Underserved Filipinos of the Department of Health, with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development. The agreement focuses on top health concerns across the country such astuberculosis, family planning, maternal and child health and improvement ofgovernance mechanisms in relation to theUniversal Health Care Act.

Lastly, a two-year extension of the World Bank loan validity for the Philippine Rural Development Project of the Department of Agriculture, from May 31, 2021 to May 31, 2023, was also approved.

Five bilateral agreements between the Philippines and the United States were each also extended by a year, covering areas of economic growth, democracy and governance; basic education; health; Mindanao peace and development; as well as environment, water and climate change.

Out of the 75 flagship projects of the current government, NEDA said in July that 21 projects are on schedule to be completed by 2022, when Mr. Duterte ends his term, at an estimated total cost of P187.63 billion, while 54 other projects cumulatively worth P2.23 trillion are expected to be completed after 2022. — BML