2014 budget earmarks P400M fund for infra feasibility studies

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The proposed 2014 national budget earmarked a P400-million special purpose fund for the preparation of feasibility studies on infrastructure, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Monday.

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Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the government prepares to meet the greater demand for sound and economically viable projects in the coming years.

“Because of the urgency to implement infrastructure projects, we need to speed up the project cycle without sacrificing quality.  We want the government to have the flexibility to initiate the preparation of feasibility studies, so we can accelerate project implementation,” he said.

Balisacan, who is also the NEDA director general, added that with the fund, the country can ultimately find the cheapest source of financing that best serves the interest of the government and do not need to depend on donor-driven feasibility studies.

The Cabinet official cited the 2012 Official Development Assistance (ODA) Portfolio Review Report, which identified start-up delays and high cost overruns as among key issues in implementing ODA-funded projects.  NEDA submitted the report to Congress in June this year.

“The P400 million feasibility studies fund can actually save the government money,” he said.

The NEDA official, however, said that the special purpose fund is intended only for projects listed in the government’s Public Investment Program (PIP) and excludes those for public-private partnership (PPP) implementation, as stated in the special provisions of the proposed 2014 budget.

“Since the NEDA will administer the fund, we will be limiting it to high-priority projects that we think will have the most impact on inclusive growth and development.  We will soon submit a list to the Department of Budget and Management, the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Finance,” he said.

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