Government to complete approval of 75 infra projects this year
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - April 9, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) expects the government to complete within the year the approval of 75 big-ticket infrastructure projects under its massive infrastructure program.

During the 8th World Bank- Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said 23 of the 75 flagship infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration have acquired all necessary approvals.

He said the rest, or the remaining 52 projects, are expected to be approved later this year.

“Of the 75 high-impact and big-ticket projects we have identified, 23 projects have completed approval process and are now shovel-ready. We expect the rest of the projects to pass the approvals process this year,” he said.

According to the finance chief, the government is continuously initiating measures to fast-track the implementation of its massive infrastructure program.

“We continue to improve the institutional processes regarding project approval and execution. It is our desire to see the strategic projects completed at the shortest possible time in order to immediately realize their economic value and lessen unnecessary financing costs,” Dominguez said.

Among the measures cited by Dominguez is the early acquisition of right-of-way and resettlement of displaced residents prior to the signing of a loan agreement, and the designation of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as the procuring agent for the projects.

He said the government has also frontloaded budget allocations for its counterpart funding commitments and established project monitoring offices to closely supervise the completion of projects.

The finance chief said the DOF and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also stream- lined the process for the approval of loans and projects.

Dominguez said the two agencies are now finalizing the guidelines for the implementation of a three-in-one process in which the approval of the NEDA Board, the Forward Obligational Authority of the DBM and the Special Presidential Authority for a project are issued all at once during a single meeting, rather than several meetings which take weeks or months.

Dominguez said the government has also decided to shift

to a hybrid public-private partnership (PPP) mode, wherein the government would build the infrastructure projects and later bid out the operation and maintenance to the private sector.

He said the hybrid PPP mode would enable the government to execute projects quickly and reduce completion risks.

For 2018, the government has allocated about P1.1 trillion for infrastructure in- vestments, equivalent to 6.3 percent of the gross domestic product. This is expected to rise further to 7.3 percent of the GDP by 2022.

Complementary to the Build Build Build program is the Comprehensive Tax Re- form Program, which aims to raise the Philippines’ tax effort and provide a steady revenue stream for infrastructure initiatives, Dominguez said.

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