Last two years of gov’t term focused on transport, water projects

The government will focus on finishing mass transport, water supply, and road projects during the last two years of the government’s term, the administration’s point man for flagship projects said.

“Our priorities now are the transport and mobility projects, and also the projects with respect to water supply because these really the most pressing issues moving forward,” according to Vivencio B. Dizon, the presidential adviser for flagship infrastructure projects, speaking at a webinar Friday.

Mr. Dizon said the projects include railways, regional airports and water supply projects for Metro Manila, as well as big-ticket projects in the Visayas and Mindanao, mostly roads, bridges and the first phase of the Mindanao Railway project.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, approved in August the expanded list of 104 infrastructure flagship projects worth P4.13 trillion. The government hopes to start all of the priority projects by 2022, before Mr. Duterte ends his six-year term.

The priority list is part of the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure. It has undergone several revisions since last year with some projects shelved and others added.

He said more details on the status of priority projects will be released before the year ends.

Among the major railway projects are the North South Commuter Railway in Luzon and extensions of the Manila Light Rail Transit system (LRT); while the regional airports include the expansion of Clark International Airport, the new Bohol International Airport, and New Manila International Airport in Bulacan.

To address the capital’s dwindling water supply, ongoing projects include the P20-billion New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Project and the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has warned that the capacity of Angat Dam, which is Metro Manila’s major source of water, will no longer be able to meet the capital’s needs between 2020 and 2025.

Mr. Dizon said the government is also fast-tracking the approval process for infrastructure works to keep the project pipeline going.

“The goal of this government is not only to finish as many projects as we can, which we are way on track to do, but it is also very important to think past the Duterte administration… We want the next administration to have a robust pipeline of projects,” he said.

Government spending on infrastructure fell 40% from a year earlier to P56.9 billion in September, bringing the nine-month tally to P451.5 billion, down 16.5%.

The government allotted P1.12 trillion for infrastructure projects in next year’s P4.5- trillion budget, with a goal of generating 1.7 million jobs and pump-prime the economy. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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