Cabinet body endorses P52B infra projects to Neda Board

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INFRASTRUCTURE projects worth P52.2 billion were endorsed by Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom,) to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board as part of the government’s strategy to disperse development and rebalance economic growth to encompass the regions.

“These projects will ensure the realization of the Duterte administration’s goals to reduce poverty and inequality by focusing on regional, rural, and agricultural development,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement on Sunday.

These projects include the Expansion of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), New Cebu International Container Port Project (NCICP), Scaling-up of the Second Cordillera Highlands Agricultural Resources Management Project (CHARMP2), Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Stage 2 (MMIP-II), Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, and Plaridel Bypass Toll Road Project.

For Metro Manila, the Cabinet-level ICC endorsed the Improvement/Widening of the General Luis Road (Quezon City to Valenzuela City) Project.


PRDP
On the other hand, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for the expansion of the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) to the tune of P21 billion by separately endorsing the proposal to the NEDA.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has sent an official endorsement of the PRDP’s proposed additional funding to NEDA. He is joined by at least 45 local chief executives, 12 regional development councils as well as the Departments of Public Works and Highways and of Agrarian Reform.

The PRDP is now in the process of complying with the required documents and milestones for the proposed expansion.

The World Bank-assisted PRDP largely focuses on developing agricultural infrastructure such as bridges and farm-to-market roads.

The ongoing PRDP covers 16 regions and 80 provinces including Davao del Norte, Iloilo, Isabela, and Oriental Mindoro, also called the big agricultural producers.

The P21-billion expansion will add 206 farm-to-market roads for a total of 386; 24 market roads and bridges for a total of 44; two rural road bridges for a total of eight; five communal irrigation systems for a total of seven; 17 level-two potable water supply for a total of 27; and 65 other agricultural support infrastructure for a total of 129.

DA Undersecretary and PRDP National Director Ariel Cayanan said in a statement the PRDP will primarily patch the current gap in the P19.18-billion World Bank loan proceeds for rural infrastructure development portfolio.

“Without assured additional resources under the agency, the DA cannot commit to funding the remaining rural infrastructures … under the PRDP even with equities from the national government and local government units,” Cayanan said.

Besides the lack of internal funding from the DA, the department is pushing for the expansion of the PRDP to sustain institutional and governance reforms program has so far introduced.

“The expansion is vital to sustain the momentum for mainstreaming governance reforms, not only in the DA but also across partner agencies and LGUs,” Cayanan said, adding that the PRDP has been known to have revolutionized ways of doing business in and with the DA, introducing innovations in enhancing transparency, accountability and participation mechanisms.

“It would also be timely to scale up reforms we have been introducing by reaching out to more LGUs, thereby consolidating our efforts on a national scale,” Cayanan said.

In asking for additional financing, the DA is also proposing to explore with the World Bank how to further strengthen and sustain the PRDP project-approach and institutional reforms and integrating these into the DA’s regular programming and budgeting processes.

Way forward
The DA needs to secure NEDA’s final endorsement by January 2017 for the negotiations with the World Bank to proceed.

In April 2016, a WB delegation together with a PRDP team visited various projects around the country to review and assess the implementation of sub-projects on the ground.

This mission follows the first support mission in September 2015 that earned the PRDP a satisfactory performance rating from the World Bank.

Projects endorsed
ICC-CabCom noted the P9.20-billion NCICP Project is to be built in a 25-hectare reclaimed island in Consolacion, Cebu to decongest the existing Cebu International Port which has already exceeded its optimal yard utilization rate because of increased cargo volume and area limitation of 14 hectares.

The NCICP is a new international container port facility necessary to sustain the level of development in Cebu, and has been proposed for funding through official development assistance (ODA).

“It is proposed to be implemented by the Department of Transportation and the Cebu Port Authority starting third quarter of 2017 until the second quarter of 2020,” it said.

Meanwhile, the committee said the P601.09-million CHARMP2 of the Department of Agriculture (DA) which started in 2009, builds on the first CHARM project conducted in 1997 to 2004, that reduced poverty among indigenous peoples (IPs) in the poor, upland communities of the Cordillera Region.

The proposed scaling up of the ongoing CHARMP2 will add 18 new barangays to cover additional 9,055 household beneficiaries from Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province.

“CHARMP2 aims to lift the new beneficiaries from poverty by increasing farm family income through sustainable agricultural development. Also, by enhancing quality of life through improved security, food security, and watershed conservation,” it said, noting its project cost is to be financed through ODA under the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

ICC-Cabcom noted the P5.4 billion worth of proposed changes in scope, cost and financing of the ongoing MMIP-II in North Cotabato and Maguindanao—as potential rice baskets in Mindanao—will irrigate almost 10,000 hectares of land in 56 conflict-affected areas.

Intended to contribute to sustained peace and order, it will cover the construction of three major service areas in upper and lower Malitubog and the Pagalungan extension area.

“The change includes an increase in the design area and a decrease in total cost from the NEDA Board-approved P7.0 billion in 2010 to P5.4 billion. The MMIP-II project is being implemented by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) and is expected to be completed by 2018” the agency said.

A project by the NIA is the P2.7 billion Chico River Pump Irrigation system covering 8,700 hectares of agricultural land. It is intended to benefit 4,350 farmers and serve 21 barangays in Cagayan and Kalinga.

The P2.8-billion Improvement/Widening of the General Luis Road Project will improve road condition and ease traffic flow in the 8.89-kilometer General Luis-Kaybiga-Polo-Novaliches Road from Quirino Highway in Quezon City to General MacArthur Highway in Valenzuela City.

“The work will expand from two to four lanes almost throughout the identified stretch, expansion from four to six lanes in some sections especially intersections, and rehabilitation of existing bridges,” according to the committee.

Lastly, the Plaridel Bypass Toll Road Project aims to upgrade the existing 2-lane road in the province of Bulacan to a 4-lane toll road expressway including the construction of two service roads along the Barangay Burol access to Angat River. The project is estimated to cost P10.50 billion.

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