P8-T needed to fill infra backlog

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News -

CEBU - In order to to close the infrastructure gap over the next six years, the Duterte administration needs at least P8 trillion to to fund ambitious public investment program, according to Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III.

In a recent business forum, Dominguez said that an initial list of 18 bigticket items worth a total of P427.5 billion have already been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for this unprecedented infrastructure buildup, which “is much more than what the previous administration undertook during its entire tenure in office.”

This underscores the firm resolve of President Duterte to realize his administration’s goal of accelerating infrastructure spending to help pull down the poverty rate to below 15 percent by the time he steps aside in 2022.

“Building infra, as you are aware, has the highest multiplier effect on the economy. It is also indispensable to transforming the nature of our growth so that it is led by investments instead of consumption. Investment-led growth, in turn, will create quality jobs. This is the predicate for inclusive growth,” Dominguez said at the Wallace Forum in Makati City.

“Budget Secretary Ben Diokno estimates that we need to invest about P8 trillion over the next six years on infra to be at par with our neighbors. To put this amount in perspective, the total resources of the Philippine financial system is P16.2 trillion. That is a huge price tag, to be sure, and it is my happy duty to find the revenues to support that,” he said.

Dominguez said the country is fortunate that development partners and other nations are supportive of the Duterte administration’s plans as they are “confident this government means business and is determined to work hard to get things done.”

He said: “By some estimates, we are at least a couple of decades behind our neighbors with regard to infra. We need everything from new airport capacity, a cheaper and more efficient power sector, actually functioning rail systems and even new digital pathways. We need more public health care facilities and classrooms. According to some planning experts, we do not only need to decongest cities but do so by building new urban centers.”

Dominguez said the government is financing its unparalleled infra program through a mixture of soft loans, grants, official development assistance (ODA) and the public-private partnership (PPP) program.

The Duterte administration’s approved major infra projects so far include the improvement of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the South Line of the Northsouth Railway Project, which will be funded through the PPP.

And also the Asian Development Bank-supported Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit; the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, which is backed by the World Bank; New Cebu International Container Port, which will get its funding from Korean ODA; and the Panglao Airport, which is supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Dominguez said.

He said these projects will be implemented with transparency and proper accountability, as President Duterte had already issued an executive order on Freedom of Information covering the executive branch. This order would help inspire greater public confidence in the government’s infrastructure program, reduce corruption, and remove the legal obstacles that have delayed the implementation of projects in the past, he added.

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