THE government has shelved eight major infrastructure projects worth P370 billion under its flagship program, as it seeks to conserve resources and prioritize shovel-ready ones with high economic and jobs impact.
Vivencio B. Dizon, the presidential adviser for flagship infrastructure projects, on Thursday said the government also added 13 new projects that it deems crucial for post-pandemic recovery.
In an online press briefing, Mr. Dizon said they retained 92 infrastructure projects worth P4.1 trillion, out of the original list of 100 projects worth P4.4 trillion. Twenty-nine projects will be funded through public-private partnerships (PPP).
“We have essentially shelved in the (flagship list) about eight projects that are still under feasibility studies and replaced them with projects that are ready to go and shovel-ready that are responsive to the needs post-COVID-19, (adding) 13 new projects,” Mr. Dizon said.
Among the shelved projects are the P175.66-billion Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, P13.94-billion New Zamboanga International Airport, the P6.94-billion New Dumaguete Airport, P9.5-billion Dalton Pass East Alignment Alternative Road, and the Guimaras-Negros segment of the P189.526-billion Panay-Guimaras Negros Bridge.
Other projects that were set aside include the P56-billion Kanan Dam project, the P31.22-billion Kabulnan-2 Multipurpose Irrigation and Power Project in Mindanao, and the P19.36-billion Panay River Basin Integrated Development Project.
“We would revisit them again in the next quarter to see what’s the progress in the feasibility studies of these projects,” Mr. Dizon said.
Mr. Dizon said the 13 new infrastructure projects will address issues brought to light by the coronavirus pandemic. Out of the 13, four are information technology-related projects, five are water projects, three are related to transportation, and one involves the health sector.
Among the new IT projects are the Land Transportation Office Central Command Center project; the Motor Vehicle Recognition and Enhancement System project; the National Broadband Program, and the Information and Communications Technology Capacity Development and Management Program.
For the water sector, new projects included the Water District Development Sector Projects; the National Irrigation Sector Rehabilitation and Improvement Project; Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project Phase II; the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project; and the Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project.
New transportation projects are the Metro Manila Logistics Network project; the North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link Extension to Anda Circle, and the General Santos Airport.
The government is also prioritizing the construction of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines. Mr. Dizon said the Health department will add more projects to the list once these are approved by the National Economic and Development Authority.
All projects under the revised list will be started before President Rodrigo R. Duterte ends his six-year term by 2022, Mr. Dizon said.
As the pandemic drags on, the government is hoping the infrastructure push will help the economy rebound strongly in 2021. “We have not only continued with ‘Build, Build, Build’ and our flagship projects, we will even further intensify for this to serve as a major driver in our recovery in the coming months,” Mr. Dizon said.
In May, officials said the government revised the list of flagship infrastructure projects based on “available fiscal space for infrastructure projects in 2020-2022; project readiness and implementation capacity of line agencies; economic growth and jobs impact.” Other criteria included the interest and risk level of the private sector; and inclusion of projects for health and digital economy.
The flagship infrastructure program, a sublist under the “Build, Build, Build” program, was first revised late last year when the number of projects was increased to 100 from 75. Some big projects were dropped to include more small projects and some unsolicited PPP-funded projects.
Data from the Budget department showed the infrastructure and other capital outlays went down 36.7% from a year ago to P38.9 billion in May, taking the year-to-date total to P235.2 billion, down 12.2% year on year. — Beatrice M. Laforga